Twitter has been a hub for spam accounts and bots since the platform’s early years. The problem has plagued the company for a long time and today they’ve introduced another idea that may help stop it.
Twitter announced that it is changing its rule on the number of accounts a person can follow per day. The platform tweeted that the limit is moving from 1,000 accounts to 400 in order to stop spammers.
Follow, unfollow, follow, unfollow. Who does that? Spammers. So we’re changing the number of accounts you can follow each day from 1,000 to 400. Don’t worry, you’ll be just fine.
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) April 8, 2019
Twitter is working to impede “churning” accounts and lessen the number of block and spam reports caused by them. Churning accounts are profiles that repeatedly follow and unfollow to increase their follower metrics.
Some users questioned the 400 account limit, but Yoel Roth, Twitter’s Head of Integrity, offered some insight in his own string of tweets.
“You can’t stop spam, bots, or other types of manipulation with rate limits alone,” Roth said. “However, rate limits do make each spam account less effective, slower, and more expensive to operate.”
The limit is not expected to impact most users. “Most people don’t need or want to follow that many accounts,” Roth said in his Twitter thread.
Today, we lowered the limit on the number of accounts you can follow per day from 1000 to 400. Some people are wondering why we picked 400. Well, I’m glad you asked. Nerdy thread on rate limits and anti-spam technology 👇… https://t.co/DZTkqo2dqi
— Yoel Roth (@yoyoel) April 8, 2019
Imposing a limit of less than 400 could negatively affect business profiles that handle customer service issues through Twitter. They may need to follow a large number of accounts to send and receive messages.
To avoid that, the company made its decision based on the threshold of account follows per day by spam accounts.
Twitter has been doing routine sweeps to stop spam and bots from overwhelming the platform. Ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, the company deleted more than 9 million bot accounts.
Earlier this year the platform had to fight against the spread of Islamic State propaganda after it was found that hundreds of dormant Twitter accounts had been hijacked. The company has since deleted the accounts.
Facebook and YouTube have also had their fair share of tackling inorganic engagement in the form of bots and dislike campaigns. Facebook’s war room is completely dedicated to monitoring and removing bots aimed at election interference and propaganda. YouTube is focusing on more ways to stop “dislike campaigns” that have adverse impacts on its users.
Twitter and other platforms are expected to continue its quarterly bots sweeps, and spam management as the United States nears the 2020 election cycle.