The Twitter Inc. logo is seen behind an Apple Inc. iPhone 6s displaying the company’s mobile application in this arranged photograph taken in New York, U.S. (Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg)

Twitter Ramps Up Fight Against Fake Profiles Before Midterm Elections

(Bloomberg) -- Twitter Inc. is ramping up the fight against fake profiles and spam in an effort to clean up its platform ahead of the U.S. November midterm elections.

The company said it removed about 50 accounts in August that misrepresented themselves on the social-media site as members of various state Republican parties. It’s also taken action on Tweets sharing news about elections and political issues with misleading or incorrect party affiliation information, Twitter said Monday in a blog post.

Twitter said it’s expanding the methods of identifying fake accounts to include scrutiny of those with stock or stolen avatar photos, copied profile biographies and intentionally misleading profile information.

Twitter, Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube have been escalating their efforts to fight foreign influence campaigns ahead of the November elections. The technology platforms were used in the 2016 campaign by overseas actors to meddle in American politics and broaden political divisions. During the presidential election, the Kremlin-backed Russian Internet Research Agency operated accounts masquerading as official political organizations and local American news sources.

Executives from the technology companies have appeared before congressional lawmakers several times over the past year to explain what they’ve been doing to combat political interference from countries including Russia and Iran. Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey told members of Congress in September that he was rethinking core parts of the company’s product to improve the health of conversation on the platform.

Twitter said it has been improving its algorithms to identify spam and automated accounts. In the first half of September, the company said it challenged an average of 9.4 million accounts each week. As a result of greater efforts to ferret out false information, the number of spam-related reports from users has declined to an average of about 16,000 per day in September from 17,000 per day in May, Twitter said.

During the past few months, the company rolled out a stricter registration process for developers requesting access to Twitter data, and is now suspending about 30,000 applications each month, according to the blog post.

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