Twitter cracks down on fake accounts ahead of midterm elections

Twitter is stepping up efforts to remove fake or misleading accounts from its platform ahead of the 2018 midterm elections as it looks to address lingering questions of potential misuse by bad actors.

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The social media company said it has expanded the metrics it uses to identify fake accounts, scanning for stock images, stolen profile bios, fraudulent locations and other signs that accounts are inauthentic. The platform will also crack down on accounts that spread hacked data or claim responsibility for data breaches.

“We are committed to improving the health of the public conversation on Twitter and protecting the integrity of elections is an essential part of that mission,” company executives said a blog post outlining the initiatives.

Twitter and other social media platforms have faced unprecedented scrutiny since the 2016 election cycle amid the rise of “fake news" and allegations that state-sponsored actors from Russia and Iran may be using social media to sway election results. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is one of several social media executives who have testified before Congress about the issue.

Company shares were flat in trading Tuesday.

In a blog post outlining its rule updates, Twitter said it removed about 50 accounts posing as members of state Republican parties and about 770 accounts “engaging in coordinated behavior which appeared to originate in Iran.”

Twitter said initiatives have begun to reduce spam posts on the platform and noted that it challenges the authenticity of about 9.4 million accounts per week.

Candidates for political office will be prompted to enable two-factor authentication on their accounts to boost security during the election cycle.