Right-wing outrage as Twitter locks down accounts in 'bot purge'

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The new rules prohibit developers from using any system that simultaneously post tweets with "identical or substantially similar" content from multiple accounts at once.

"We also take action on any accounts we find that violate our terms of service, including asking account owners to confirm a phone number so we can confirm a human is behind it". The hashtag #TwitterLockOut was trending in the USA, meaning thousands of accounts were tweeting about it. Instead of sending the same tweet from multiple accounts, users can send one tweet and have multiple accounts retweet it, but they can't use "bulk, aggressive, or very high-volume automated retweeting". But some users, including white nationalist Richard Spencer, complained about losing hundreds of followers on or more on the platform. When an account is locked and being challenged to provide a phone number, it's removed from follower counts until it provides a phone number, Twitter added.

A Twitter spokesperson has now weighed in saying, "Twitter's tools are apolitical, and we enforce our rules without political bias".

Twitter made substantial changes today that will greatly impact social media managers who oversee multiple accounts and use automation apps to manage their Twitter activity. They claimed the company never had a consistent policy for dealing with how bots abuse Twitter.

Some fake accounts have been traced to Russian-backed agents that the USA government says are working to sow political discord. Researchers say as many as 15 percent of accounts could be fake or spam, a number Twitter says is much lower.

Last month, Twitter revealed that more than 50,000 accounts on the platform were linked to Russian propaganda and almost 700,000 Americans were exposed to that content-much of which is believed to have been produced and spread by the Internet Research Agency, a Russian bot farm operated out of St. Petersburg and often associated with the Russian government. On the flip side, progressive users say Twitter doesn't do enough to stop harassment against women and people of color.

Cutting off the fire hose of hate and harassment that has persisted following the presidential election has become a pressing issue for Twitter, which is under pressure to grow its user base and attract more advertising as it faces mounting competition from Facebook.

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