According to data obtained by the Washington Post and confirmed by Twitter, the company has suspended as many as 1 million accounts a day, with 70 million accounts suspended in May and June. A substantial portion of the suspension process is automated.
Twitter told Gizmodo that automated systems were identifying and “challenging” about 10 million accounts per month as of May, a process that can require adding a phone number to an account flagged as “suspicious.” Twitter also says it has been blocking the creation of 50,000 suspected spam accounts per day.
According to the experts, the extensive elimination of fake accounts can lead to a subsequent decline in Twitter’s monthly user number for the second quarter of this. User numbers are widely seen as measures of the health of digital media platforms.
The new offensive against such accounts represents something of an ideological shift in the tech company; it had long abstained from policing potential abuses of the platform in the name of free speech.
Del Harvey, Twitter’s vice president for trust and safety said the company is changing “how we think about balancing free expression versus the potential for free expression to chill someone else’s speech.”
“Free expression doesn’t really mean much if people don’t feel safe,” Harvey told the Post.
The president over the weekend in a tweet said that Twitter is “getting rid of accounts at a record pace,” an apparent remark on the Post story, and asked whether the “Failing New York Times” and “propaganda machine for Amazon” Washington Post would have their accounts deleted.
Saturday’s tweet is yet another example of Trump’s brutal attack on the media and anger at negative coverage of him. He has gone after both the Times and the Post, which is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, multiple times.