Twitter says it receives half a million of spam reports per month
Twitter said today that its staff receives over half a million spam reports per month, a number that while considerable has actually fallen from previous numbers reported at the start of the year.
The company revealed this information as part of its bi-annual Transparency Report, which it published earlier today, and which contains data from the first six months of the year.
Spam and political influence campaigns
According to Twitter, “the average number of reports we received through our reporting flow continued to drop — from an average of approximately 868,349 in January to approximately 504,259 in June.”
The company says that this decline in spam reports shows “the effectiveness of our proprietary built technology in proactively identifying and challenging accounts” before they begin spamming.
Twitter has been increasingly relying on automated technologies to detect spammy accounts before they start spamming. The company says that these tools have pretty high accuracy and that 75 percent of all accounts it flags as spam do not subsequently pass checks and are eventually suspended.
According to Twitter’s definition, accounts that attempt any malicious form of automation are deemed as “spam.” This doesn’t only include accounts that push Viagra pills and adult links but also accounts part of botnets engaged in political influence campaigns, such as the ones carried out in the past by Russian and Iranian operatives.
In mid-October, Twitter also published data from Russian and Iranian information ops, for political research purposes.
But besides Twitter’s struggle with its spam problem, the report also included details on the company’s fight with governments around the world.
Today’s report highlighted a rise in government requests for user data.
“The latest Twitter Transparency Report shows that Twitter received approximately 80% more global legal demands, impacting more than twice as many accounts compared to the previous reporting period,” Twitter said today.
According to Twitter, 87 percent of all user data requests came from the governments of two countries, namely Russia and Turkey, the same two who also made the most requests in 2017.
“Internet freedom and online expression remain under significant pressure and constraint, a trend we have observed across recent reports,” the company said.
Another area of interest where Twitter reported positive results today was flagging and taking down terrorist content. Twitter said it suspended 205,156 accounts under suspicion of terrorism-related content in the first six months of the year. The number is down considerably compared to the 1.2 million accounts suspended in the last six months of 2017.
Around 91 percent of these were flagged with automated tools, and only 0.1% of all suspended accounts were taken down after a government request, a number suggesting that Twitter has somewhat fixed its terrorism problem that once used to run rampant on the platform –considered at one point one of ISIS’ main recruiting grounds.
In regards to child sexual exploitation, Twitter reported 487,363 account suspensions in the first six months of the year, which is quite the hefty number.
Twitter said that 97 percent of these suspensions came after detection by its automated tools.
The company’s latest Transparency Report is available in full, here.