Twitter has rolled out another feature intended to cut down on spam and misinformation efforts—adding suspected bots, malicious links, and spammy hashtags to the “suspicious or spam” category users can choose when reporting violations of its terms of service.
Twitter’s official Safety account posted news of the feature early on Wednesday afternoon:
Activity that attempts to manipulate or disrupt Twitter’s service is not allowed. We remove this when we see it.
You can now specify what type of spam you're seeing when you report, including fake accounts. pic.twitter.com/GN9NKw2Qyn
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) October 31, 2018
“The new reporting flow will allow us to collect more detailed information so we can identify and remove spam more effectively,” a Twitter spokesperson told the Verge. “With more details to review, we’ll be adding more resources to our review processes.”
This is a positive, if overdue, change. It’s undoubtable automated bot accounts play a role in amplifying some of the worst behaviour on the site—just look at the sprawling, semi-fake controversy that played out on the site over Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
However, it’s far from clear that bots play anywhere near as important a role in the site’s self-admitted dysfunction as opposed to, say, its well-documented reluctance to enforce its own policies against harassment and hate speech. And anyone who has spent more than even a brief period of time on the site can confirm that certain users fling accusations that anyone who disagrees with them is a “bot” back and forth ad nauseam. (i.e., “You’re a bot.” “No, you’re a bot!” “No, YOU’RE a bot!” “Blocked and reported, bot.” “Oh look, the bot blocked me.”) So this will likely amount to a drop in the bucket, whether or not Twitter suddenly becomes more diligent with its moderation in the future.
In any case, Twitter has long tried to control the beast raging inside its platform by making minor adjustments around the margins like this, while more dramatic changes its management has floated like getting rid of likes have remained elusive. At least for today, this is what you get. You bot, you.