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Twitter Took Action Against 4,658 Accounts for Covid-19 Misinformation in the First Half of 2020


Twitter took enforcement action against 4,658 accounts for misleading information about Covid-19 during the time period between when it implemented its policies last March and June 30, 2020, and the social network’s automated systems challenged 4.5 million accounts that were targeting discussions around Covid-19 with spammy or manipulative behaviors, according to the 17th Twitter Transparency Report, which covers the first six months of 2020.

During that time period, Twitter took action on more than 52,000 accounts that it reliably attributed to state-backed information operations originating in China, Egypt, Ghana, Honduras, Indonesia, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia and Turkey.

Twitter saw a 54% increase in anti-spam challenges from January through June 2020 compared with the previous six months, attributing much of the gain to proactive measures it put in place to protect the conversation around Covid-19, and spam reports were up 16%.

The number of accounts removed for violations of Twitter’s terrorism and violent extremism policies was up 5% in the first six months of 2020 versus the second half of 2019, with 94% of those accounts proactively identified, including by leveraging data from the shared industry hash database supported by the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism.

Twitter also saw a 68% jump in child sexual exploitation content removed from its platform and reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children from January through June 2020 compared with July through December 2019.

The social network said it received 19% more Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notices during the first six months of 2020 than in the second half of 2019, affecting 87% more accounts, but its trademark notice compliance fell by 30% during the period.

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Twitter detailed other changes in its rules enforcement in the first half of 2020 versus July through December 2019:

  • Abuse/harassment: Actions were taken against 34% more accounts.
  • Civic integrity: Actions were taken against 37% more accounts, driven by elections taking place across the globe.
  • Hateful conduct: 35% fewer accounts were acted upon, and Twitter noted that its hateful conduct policy was expanded in March 2020 to cover new facets of dehumanization, including the prohibition of language that dehumanizes people on the basis of age, disability and disease.
  • Non-consensual nudity: Enforcement actions were down 58%.
  • Private information: Enforcement of this policy climbed 68%.
  • Promoting suicide and self-harm: Action was taken against 49% fewer accounts.

Twitter received 12,657 legal requests for account information from January through June 2020, specifying 25,560 accounts, from 68 different countries.

The social network also received 42,220 legal demands to remove content, specifying 85,375 accounts, from 53 different countries. Twitter said 96% of the total global volume came from five countries—Japan, Russia, South Korea, Turkey and India—and they impacted roughly 13% fewer accounts than in the second half of 2019.

Twitter received 19% more reports based on local laws from trusted reporters and non-governmental organizations in the first six months of 2020 than from July through December 2019, impacting about 7% more accounts.

Twitter wrote, “As noted throughout the report, the Covid-19 pandemic did significantly disrupt our content moderation work during this time—a disruption that is reflected in much of the data presented today. Our enforcement teams have adjusted their approach in the context of a pandemic and are continuing to increase their capacity to get back to the strong pre-Covid levels of enforcement that is expected.

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The social network concluded, “There will always be more work to do in this space, and we’ll continue to provide biannual Twitter Transparency Reports that offer more clarity into our operations and work to protect the public conversation. We also recognize the importance of measuring prevalence of certain content on Twitter, and we have begun a multiyear initiative to enable us to provide more consistent transparency on these issues. We look forward to sharing more details in due course.”





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