Twitter outlines new ways to spot fake accounts ahead of midterm elections

Twitter is cracking down on fake accounts as it prepares for the midterm elections in the US. 

The social media firm issued some updates on its 'elections integrity work' late Monday, among which include new guidelines for what kinds of behaviors its taking action against. 

What's more, the firm says it has already deleted 50 profiles believed to be posing as members of the Republican party. 

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The social media firm issued some updates on its 'elections integrity work' late Monday, among which include new guidelines for what kinds of behaviors its taking action against

The social media firm issued some updates on its 'elections integrity work' late Monday, among which include new guidelines for what kinds of behaviors its taking action against

'As platform manipulation tactics continue to evolve, we are updating and expanding our rules to better reflect how we identify fake accounts, and what types of inauthentic activity violate our guidelines,' Twitter wrote in a blog post. 

'We now may remove fake accounts engaged in a variety of emergent, malicious behaviors.'

The firm went on to outline some factors it's keeping an eye on when determining whether or not an account might be fake. 

It now considers the use of stock or stolen avatar photos, stolen or copied profile bios and intentionally misleading profile information, like a user's location, as suspicious. 

The firm is also encouraging political candidates use two-factor authentication, or an extra layer of security that's required to log into an account, but they're not requiring officials to use it.  

Many politicians have already turned on two-factor authentication, Twitter said. 

Twitter now considers the use of stock or stolen avatar photos, stolen or copied profile bios and intentionally misleading profile information, like a user's location, as suspicious

Twitter now considers the use of stock or stolen avatar photos, stolen or copied profile bios and intentionally misleading profile information, like a user's location, as suspicious

Twitter said it's also banning any posts that contain hacked materials. 

It previously banned users who made hacking threats, but now that's expanded to prohibit the distribution of hacked information 'that contains personally identifiable information, may put people in imminent harm or danger, or contains trade secrets.'

However, users are still allowed to share commentary, such as news articles, about a hack or hacked materials.

Finally, the firm is beefing up its 'enforcement approach' to bring the hammer down on accounts that 'deliberately mimic or are intended to replace accounts we have previously suspended for violating our rules.' 

It follows Twitter's recent announcement that it had taken down 770 accounts for spreading misinformation from Iran.      

'Since our initial suspensions...we have continued our investigation, further building our understanding of these networks,' Twitter's safety division wrote in a tweet.

'In addition, we suspended an additional 486 accounts for violating the policies outlined last week. 

'That bringing the total suspended to 770,' they continued.  

Other disinformation campaigns have involved far-right themes, but the content removed involved anti-Trump rhetoric

Pictured are examples of tweets from suspended accounts

Other disinformation campaigns have involved far-right themes, but the content removed involved anti- rhetoric. Pictured are examples of tweets from suspended accounts

As with much of the content discovered from fake accounts, they were sharing content meant to sow division between Americans, often touching on inflammatory political issues

As with much of the content discovered from fake accounts, they were sharing content meant to sow division between Americans, often touching on inflammatory political issues

Most of the suspended accounts are believed to be from Iran. Fewer than 100 were located in the US and they tweeted about 867 times, were followed by 1,268 accounts and had joined Twitter less than a year ago. 

As with much of the content discovered from fake accounts, they were sharing content meant to sow division between Americans, often touching on inflammatory political issues. 

Interestingly, unlike other disinformation campaigns that have involved far-right themes, the content removed by Twitter involved anti- rhetoric. 

For example, one post states

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