Users signing up for new accounts on Twitter will now need to authenticate their accounts with either an email address or a phone number, the social media company has said. The authentication process which has been a standard across multiple social platforms is finally making its way on to Twitter as a way to curb abusive or fake accounts.
In a blog post, Twitter said that new users will now have to confirm either an email address or phone number when they sign up for the platform. This change will be rolled out later this year, and the company says that its two-year-old Trust and Safety Council will also be working with NGOs to “ensure this change does not hurt someone in a high-risk environment where anonymity is important.”
Twitter has said that it will also start “auditing existing accounts for signs of automated sign up.” The social platform will then start limiting the reach of such accounts. Once its systems have flagged an automated account, Twitter will remove it from follower figures and engagement counts, put a warning on it and keep new accounts from following it until it has passed some sort of verification, such as providing a phone number. “We think this is an important shift in how we display tweet and account information to ensure that malicious actors aren’t able to artificially boost an account’s credibility permanently by inflating metrics like the number of followers,” the company said in its blog post.
Twitter vs automated accounts
In February, Twitter had said it would no longer allow users to post identical messages from multiple accounts, in a crackdown on tactics used by Russian bots and others malicious actors to make tweets or topics go viral. Developers are now banned from using any system that simultaneously posts “identical or substantially similar” tweets from multiple accounts at once, or makes actions like liking, retweeting, and following across multiple accounts at once.
At the NAMApolicy event on ‘Fake News’ in February, Twitter India’s Mahima Kaul said that the platform catches 3.2 million suspicious accounts every week and these accounts are not added to the Monthly Active Users (MAUs) stat by the company. In an effort nix suspicious accounts at the point of creation Kaul added that 450,000 suspicious logins are dealt with every day.
In December 2017, Twitter had released guidelines to implement changes in their policy to reduce hateful imagery, violent threats and groups inciting or glorifying brutality.