Twitter suspends popular accounts for 'tweetdecking' to inflate popularity

Social media site currently eliminating bots, 'deepfake' videos and spam in bid for improve 'conversational health' of site

Joe Sommerlad
Monday 12 March 2018 19:41 GMT
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CEO Jack Dorsey has pledged his commitment to improving users' experience
CEO Jack Dorsey has pledged his commitment to improving users' experience (Loic Venance/AFP/Getty)

Twitter has suspended a number of popular accounts after they were accused of stealing tweets or "tweetdecking" - the practice of mass retweeting posts in order to force them to go viral.

Accounts including @Dory, @GirlPosts, @SoDamnTrue, @reiatabie, @commonwhitegiri, @teenagernotes, @finah, @holyfag and @memeprovider have all been temporarily blocked, according to BuzzFeed News.

Tweetdecking sees users of the TweetDeck dashboard app conspiring to manufacture artificial popularity, sometimes carrying out bulk retweets for financial reward on behalf of a third-party.

Doing so violates the social media site's spam policy, which warns users not to "sell, purchase or attempt to artificially inflate account interactions".

Joke-stealing has long been a source of contention on Twitter, where smaller accounts can see their choicest memes and pop culture parodies harvested and plagiarised with impunity by unscrupulous users who have more followers.

Accounts like @kalesalad now track the history of viral material to ensure that proper credit for creativity is given.

Twitter announced in a blog post in February that TweetDeck would no longer be able to like, retweet or post from multiple accounts, effectively outlawing "aggressive or very high-volume automated retweeting".

The site has suspended people for the offence before but this is a much larger instance of it happening than has previously been seen.

As the likes of @Dory and @GirlPosts have several million followers, their downfall inspired a certain amount of gloating in some quarters:

It should be noted that Niki Hellings - the 18-year-old behind @GirlPosts - for one, is contesting her suspension and denies taking part in tweetdecking.

"This is hugely disappointing for me," she said in a statement. "It has taken eight years of my life to build a following of nearly 10m fans.

"I comply with Twitter’s rules and feel that this suspension is so unfair.”

Twitter has faced criticism recently over its capacity for misuse and is currently working to address a number of problems the site faces.

CEO Jack Dorsey issued a series of posts on 1 March stressing the platform's commitment to cleaning up its act:

Dorsey acknowledged that bigotry expressed on Twitter has "real-world negative consequences".

"We have witnessed abuse, harassment, troll armies, manipulation through bots and human-coordination, misinformation campaigns and increasingly divisive echo chambers," he said.

"We aren’t proud of how people have taken advantage of our service, or our inability to address it fast enough."

Moderators have responded by removing political propaganda bots, "deepfake" pornographic videos and reportedly culled far-right accounts for disseminating hate speech as it seeks to make the public forum a less hostile arena for interaction and reduce instances of apps "gaming" the system to achieve greater prominence.

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