Twitter Rules for Automation & Multiple Accounts Must Be in Compliance by March 23rd

Please review this guidance carefully, as you may be required to make changes to your application or service.

Do not (and do not allow your users to) simultaneously post identical or substantially similar content to multiple accounts. For example, your service should not permit a user to select several accounts they control from which to publish a given Tweet.

  • This applies regardless of whether the Tweets are published to Twitter at the same time, or are scheduled/queued for future publication.
  • As an alternative to posting identical content, you can Retweet content from one account from the other accounts you wish to share that post from. This should only be done from a small number of distinct accounts that you directly control. Please note that bulk, aggressive, or very high-volume automated Retweeting is not permitted under the Automation Rules, and may be subject to enforcement actions.

Do not (and do not allow your users to) simultaneously perform actions such as Likes, Retweets, or follows from multiple accounts. For example, your service should not permit a user to select several accounts they control to follow a specified account.

  • For additional information on aggressive or inorganic following behavior, please refer to this developer forum post.
  • For additional information on the appropriate use of automation for replies and mentions, please refer to this developer forum post.

The use of any form of automation (including scheduling) to post identical or substantially similar content, or to perform actions such as Likes or Retweets, across many accounts that have authorized your app (whether or not you created or directly control those accounts) is not permitted. For example, applications that coordinate activity across multiple accounts to simultaneously post Tweets with a specific hashtag (e.g. in an attempt to cause that topic to trend) are prohibited.

  • While we continue to permit cross-posting outside information (such as weather alerts or RSS feeds) to Twitter using automation, you should only post this content to one account you control.
  • As a sole exception to this rule, applications that broadcast or share weather, emergency, or other public service announcements of broad community interest (for example, earthquake or tsunami alerts) are permitted to post this content across multiple accounts who have authorized an app.

Today, we’re also introducing changes to TweetDeck’s multiple account functionality to reflect this guidance. Users of TweetDeck will no longer be able to select multiple accounts through which to perform an action such as Tweeting, Retweeting, liking, or following.

If your app or service includes features which allow users to perform simultaneous actions across multiple accounts, you should make changes to bring it into compliance with this policy by March 23, 2018. Failure to comply with these rules could result in enforcement action, up to and including the suspension of associated applications and accounts.

While we provide detailed definitions of what constitutes spam in the Twitter Rules and Automation Rules, you should keep these two policies front of mind whenever you use the Twitter API to publish, share, or engage with content on Twitter:

  • Posting duplicative or substantially similar content, replies, or mentions over multiple accounts you control, or creating duplicate or substantially similar accounts, with or without the use of automation, is never allowed.
  • Posting multiple updates (on a single account or across multiple accounts you control) to a trending or popular topic (for instance, through the use of a specific hashtag) with an intent to subvert or manipulate the topic, or to artificially inflate the prominence of a hashtag or topic, is never allowed.

You can ask questions about any of our developer policies, and specifically about this clarification, using the Rules and Policies category in the Developer Forums.

Courtesy Twitter API, posted 2.21.18

@yoyoel

Yoel Roth

API Policy

Feinstein, Schiff Request Twitter & Facebook Conduct Investigation of Russian Bot Activity in #ReleaseTheMemo Campaign

UPDATE: Read below for a second letter dated Jan 31 2018
———————————-
 Jan 23 2018

Washington – Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee sent a letter today to Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg. In the letter, Feinstein and Schiff request that Twitter and Facebook immediately conduct an in-depth forensic examination of the reported actions by Russian bots and trolls surrounding the #ReleaseTheMemo online campaign and how users were exposed to this campaign as a result of Russian efforts. According to the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy, this effort gained the instant attention and assistance of social media accounts linked to Russian influence operations.

In the letter, Feinstein and Schiff write: “If these reports are accurate, we are witnessing an ongoing attack by the Russian government through Kremlin-linked social media actors directly acting to intervene and influence our democratic process. This should be disconcerting to all Americans, but especially your companies as, once again, it appears the vast majority of their efforts are concentrated on your platforms. This latest example of Russian interference is in keeping with Moscow’s concerted, covert, and continuing campaign to manipulate American public opinion and erode trust in our law enforcement and intelligence institutions.”

The full letter is below:

Dear Mr. Dorsey and Mr. Zuckerberg:

We seek your companies’ urgent assistance. Public reports indicate that accounts linked to the Russian government are again exploiting Twitter and Facebook platforms in an effort to manipulate public opinion. These recent Russian efforts are intended to influence congressional action and undermine Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation, which has already resulted in the indictments of two Trump campaign officials and guilty pleas from two others, who are both now cooperating with prosecutors.  It is critically important that the Special Counsel’s investigation be allowed to proceed without interference from inside or outside the United States. That is why we seek your assistance in our efforts to counter Russia’s continuing efforts to manipulate public opinion and undermine American democracy and the rule of law.

Specifically, on Thursday, January 18, 2018, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) Majority voted to allow Members of the U.S. House of Representatives to review a misleading talking points “memo” authored by Republican staff that selectively references and distorts highly classified information.  The rushed decision to make this document available to the full House of Representatives was followed quickly by calls from some quarters to release the document to the public.

Several Twitter hashtags, including #ReleaseTheMemo, calling for release of these talking points attacking the Mueller investigation were born in the hours after the Committee vote. According to the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy, this effort gained the immediate attention and assistance of social media accounts linked to Russian influence operations. By Friday, January 19, 2018, the #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag was “the top trending hashtag among Twitter accounts believed to be operated by Kremlin-linked groups.” Its use had “increased by 286,700 percent” and was being used “100 times more than any other hashtag” by accounts linked to Russian influence campaigns. These accounts are also promoting an offer by WikiLeaks to pay up to $1 million to anyone who leaks this classified partisan memo.

If these reports are accurate, we are witnessing an ongoing attack by the Russian government through Kremlin-linked social media actors directly acting to intervene and influence our democratic process. This should be disconcerting to all Americans, but especially your companies as, once again, it appears the vast majority of their efforts are concentrated on your platforms. This latest example of Russian interference is in keeping with Moscow’s concerted, covert, and continuing campaign to manipulate American public opinion and erode trust in our law enforcement and intelligence institutions.

We understand Facebook and Twitter have developed significant expertise in identifying inauthentic and malicious accounts.  Further, your forensic investigations into Russian government exploitation of your platforms during the 2016 U.S. election have helped expose to the American public the vast extent of Russia’s covert influence efforts. We therefore request that your companies conduct an in-depth forensic examination of this real-time activity on your platforms to determine:

  • Whether and how many accounts linked to Russian influence operations are involved in this campaign;
  • The frequency and volume of their postings on this topic; and
  • How many legitimate Twitter and Facebook account holders have been exposed to this campaign.

Given the urgency of this matter, we ask that you provide a public report to Congress and the American public by January 26, 2018.  In addition, we urge your companies to immediately take necessary steps to expose and deactivate accounts involved in this influence operation that violate your respective user policies.

Sincerely,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senate

Adam Schiff
United States House of Representatives

###

UPDATE: Feinstein, Schiff Send Follow Up Letter to Twitter and Facebook on #ReleaseTheMemo Campaign

Washington — Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, today sent a follow up letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg after the companies provided an incomplete response to their initial questions about the online #ReleaseTheMemo campaign. Late last week, Facebook and Twitter responded to Feinstein and Schiff’s initial letter — those responses can be found here and here).

In the initial letter, Feinstein and Schiff requested that Twitter and Facebook immediately conduct an in-depth forensic examination of the reported actions by Russian bots and trolls surrounding the #ReleaseTheMemo online campaign and how users were exposed to this campaign as a result of Russian efforts.  According to the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy, this effort gained the instant attention and assistance of social media accounts linked to Russian influence operations. In this follow up letter, Feinstein and Schiff asked additional questions of Facebook and Twitter, and provided additional information to follow up on for the requested analysis.

Feinstein and Schiff write in this follow up letter: “Although we are encouraged by your companies’ continued willingness to work with Congress to raise awareness about potential abuse of your platforms by agents of foreign influence, your replies have raised more questions than they have answered.

“It is unclear from your responses whether you believe any of the Russian-linked accounts involved in this influence campaign violated your respective user policies,” the leaders wrote. “We reiterate our request that you immediately take necessary steps to expose and deactivate such accounts if you determine that they violate your respective user policies.  We ask that you notify users who may have seen these foreign influence postings, and provide us with a description of proactive steps your companies are taking to identify, prevent, and thwart such foreign influence campaigns on your platforms in the future.”

Full letter is below – to see a PDF version click here:

January 31, 2018

Jack Dorsey
Chief Executive Officer
Twitter, Inc.
1355 Market Street
Suite 900
San Francisco, CA 94103

Mark Zuckerberg
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Facebook Inc.
1 Hacker Way
Menlo Park, CA 94025

Dear Mr. Dorsey and Mr. Zuckerberg:

We appreciate your companies’ respective responses on January 26, 2018 to our joint letter dated January 22, 2018 seeking assistance to understand the role and extent of Russian-affiliated social media accounts involved in promoting the #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag. Although we are encouraged by your companies’ continued willingness to work with Congress to raise awareness about potential abuse of your platforms by agents of foreign influence, your replies have raised more questions than they have answered.

It is unclear from your responses whether you believe any of the Russian-linked accounts involved in this influence campaign violated your respective user policies.  We reiterate our request that you immediately take necessary steps to expose and deactivate such accounts if you determine that they violate your respective user policies.  We ask that you notify users who may have seen these foreign influence postings, and provide us with a description of proactive steps your companies are taking to identify, prevent, and thwart such foreign influence campaigns on your platforms in the future.

The response from Facebook fails to indicate whether the company has conducted any analysis of the issue we raised concerning possible Russian-affiliated attempts to amplify calls to release a misleading, classified memo written by Republican staff on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (an online effort we will refer to broadly as the #ReleaseTheMemo campaign). And as more fully described below, Twitter inexplicably confined its response to “original content” and neglected to answer the question of whether Russian sources were actively engaged in promoting the #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag, as illuminated by the Hamilton 68 dashboard of the German Marshall Fund.

As that dashboard made clear in the findings we asked you to investigate: “Content is not necessarily produced or created by Russian government operatives, although that is sometimes the case. Instead, the network often opportunistically amplifies content created by third parties not directly linked to Russia.” By failing to address whether Russian-tied online accounts on Twitter or Facebook were – or still are – amplifying the #ReleaseTheMemo campaign and related messaging, we are no closer to understanding Russia’s continuing interference in our democratic affairs.

On January 19, 2018, Twitter transmitted to Congress an update to its retrospective review of Russian activity on its platform and identified an additional 1,062 accounts connected to Russia that attempted to influence an American election that took place well over a year ago. We cannot wait another year to learn how Kremlin-linked trolls and bots are currently exploiting your platforms to influence debates going on in Congress today.

It is our belief that the core questions raised in our first letter remain largely unaddressed:

  • whether and how many accounts linked to Russian influence operations were involved in the #ReleaseTheMemo campaign;
  • the frequency and volume of their postings on this topic; and
  • how many legitimate Twitter and Facebook account holders have been exposed to this campaign.

We remain gravely concerned about any foreign attempts to undermine or discredit the ongoing inquiries by Congressional committees and Special Counsel Mueller into Russian active measures during the 2016 U.S elections. To that end, we are submitting a series of new questions stemming from our original request about any pro-Russian or Kremlin-linked efforts to promote the #ReleaseTheMemo campaign – whether through original content generation orthrough content amplification via automated, false, or “troll” accounts.

Although some of these questions and requests may appear more relevant to one platform or the other, we ask that your companies nonetheless provide responses with any information, data, or context that is relevant to our underlying concern: that Moscow has persevered undeterred in its attempts to manipulate or exploit social media conversations on politically divisive topics. As the 2018 election season begins in earnest, we cannot allow Russia or any other outside power to manipulate U.S. public opinion or degrade Americans’ trust in the authenticity of domestic political and policy debates.

We therefore ask that you provide responses to the following:

  1. To the extent possible, please explain the analysis undertaken to assess the role that Kremlin-affiliated or -directed Twitter or Facebook accounts played in the #ReleaseTheMemo campaign online.  Please provide relevant specific data for posts on your platform that referenced the #ReleaseTheMemo campaign and related messaging, including the volume of posts of original content versus reposts, and a geographical breakdown of original posts versus reposts.
  2. Were these analyses limited only to those users previously identified as affiliated with the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) troll farm? Did your companies look at other Russian-linked online operatives or propagandists, including trolls, automated accounts, and “botnets?”
  3. What types of “geographic data,” did your companies rely on, if any, to analyze potential Russian involvement in the #ReleaseTheMemo campaign? For instance, in its responses to Questions for the Record dated January 15, 2018 to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Twitter wrote that “there are technological limits to what we can determine based on the information we can detect regarding a user’s origin.” In this instance, did your companies’ analyses take into account IP addresses, users’ self-identified locations, or other data points? Did a focus on a limited set of geographic indicators for identifying Russian-affiliated users involved in the #ReleaseTheMemo campaign circumscribe the universe of social media accounts you examined? For instance, were accounts with European indicators included in your analyses?
  4. Did your companies’ analyses focus solely on those accounts responsible for producing “original content” tied to the #ReleaseTheMemo campaign? Or did those analyses fully account for any efforts by online Russian-linked operatives or propagandists to re-share, retweet, or otherwise amplify the hashtag and related content – even if those social media accounts did not create the “original content?”
  5. Did your companies identify any #ReleaseTheMemo-related content or discussion linked to Russian-affiliated accounts “jumping” or otherwise moving across your platforms? For instance, we know during the 2016 election that similar IRA-generated socially divisive content and messaging appeared on both of your platforms. Was any comparable analysis conducted in this case?
  6. A recent media report suggested that more than 1,000 new Twitter accounts that were created between Thursday, January 18 and Sunday, January 21 combined to tweet or retweet the #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag almost 5,000 times. That report also found “about 200 of the accounts had only sent four or fewer tweets by Sunday night, with at least one featuring the #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag.” Did any of these accounts suggest linkages to Russian influence operatives engaging in manufactured amplification of the hashtag?
  7. Another recent media report spotlighted how individuals and entities can purchase fraudulent or fake social media users to artificially raise their profiles online. To what extent have your companies analyzed if and how agents connected to the Russian government’s influence operations have employed this technique to boost Moscow’s disinformation campaigns online? And are you able to verify whether such inauthentic social media accounts bought in bulk were used by Russian-linked influence networks online to promote the #ReleaseTheMemo campaign?
  8. As noted in our previous letter, Kremlin-linked social media accounts amplified WikiLeaks’ offer of $1 million for the misleading, Republican-authored memo. Did your companies specifically analyze the accounts retweeting or sharing WikiLeaks’ request for someone to leak the memo for potential links to Russian social media operatives or online agents?

Given the continued urgency that Congress and the public at large fully understand these matters, we ask that you provide a response to our original questions, as informed by our follow-up requests for additional information, by February 7, 2018.

Sincerely,

Bot Checking: It’s Not Easy, But Here’s Some Advice From Twitter Users

The “Release the Memo” hashtag has been suppressed by Twitter because Twitter suspects the topic is being artificially amplified by Russian-linked propaganda bots.

One of the sources used as a bot checker is “Hamilton 68,” a website maintained by The Alliance for Securing Democracy, which claims to have created an algorithm based on 600 accounts–which it will not identify—that seem to manipulate data and promote propaganda and disinformation.

http://dashboard.securingdemocracy.org/about

Media Bias Fact Check gives the Alliance for Securing Democracy a very good rating, but Julian Assange tweeted today that Hamilton 68 is biased and is itself a source of propaganda.

Based on Hamilton 68’s secretive methodology as explained on their website, it does seem as though it’s sort of a “trust us, we know what we’re doing” approach to its data analysis.

Twitter also began sending out emails warning users they may have been affected by disinformation:

The problem is that it is difficult to recognize a disinformation bot. Here are some tips from the Twitter account The Botline:

Twitter users seem enthusiastic about Botcheckme, but there are reports by some that they have checked their own accounts and the service has said they are themselves a bot, when they are in fact humans. Others say they will check on one day and they’re not classified as a bot–then the next day they are.

https://botcheck.me/

Botometer also gives likelihood of bot-like characteristics and allows you to check your followers.

https://botometer.iuni.iu.edu/

A few users recommended makeadverbsgreatagain, but I personally did not find it helpful.

https://makeadverbsgreatagain.us/mlp/

So… I think the best advice is the one given by Botline—learn to recognize the signs and then employ these other services realizing they are imperfect.

This does not solve the issue of what is really trending however–Twitter is able to dismiss a trending hashtag at will–with an awful lot of conservative and centrist voices right now feeling a bias against their ability to speak freely under Twitter’s current rules. Which brings us back to “Release the Memo”–my opinion–when Wikileaks offers a one million dollar reward, yeah, the trending hashtag is legit.

“Release the Memo” Firsthand Reports; Wikileaks Offers $1million Reward

Twitter Updates Info on Propaganda, Internet Research Agency Linked Accounts, Russian Bots

Most user engagement was with a very small number of IRA-associated accounts.  Image above courtesy Twitter, example of Internet Research Agency disinformation campaign.
By Twitter PublicPolicy

Friday, 19 January 2018

When we appeared before the United States Congress last fall, Twitter publicly committed to regularly updating both congressional committees and the public on findings from our ongoing review into events surrounding the 2016 U.S. election.

Twitter is committed to providing a platform that fosters healthy civic discourse and democratic debate.  We have been cooperating with congressional investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. We have committed to be as transparent as possible about sharing what we have learned through our retroactive investigationinto activity related to the election.

Since we presented our findings to Congress last fall, we have updated our analysis and continue to look for patterns and signals in data. Today, we are sharing an update on several aspects of that ongoing work, as well as steps we are taking to continue to make progress against potential manipulation of our platform.

Informing People of Malicious Activity in the 2016 Election

As previously announced, we identified and suspended a number of accounts that were potentially connected to a propaganda effort by a Russian government-linked organization known as the Internet Research Agency (IRA).

Consistent with our commitment to transparency, we are emailing notifications to 677,775 people in the United States who followed one of these accounts or retweeted or liked a Tweet from these accounts during the election period. Because we have already suspended these accounts, the relevant content on Twitter is no longer publicly available.

Examples of IRA Content

Most user engagement was with a very small number of IRA-associated accounts.  Some examples of content which received significant engagement are:

Updated Numbers of IRA Accounts

As part of our ongoing review, we have identified both more IRA and automated Russia-based accounts. The results of this supplemental analysis are consistent with the results of our previous work: automated election-related content associated with Russian signals represented a very small fraction of the overall activity on Twitter in the ten-week period preceding the 2016 election.

We have identified an additional 1,062 accounts associated with the IRA. We have suspended all of these accounts for Terms of Service violations, primarily spam, and all but a few accounts, which were restored to legitimate users, remain suspended.  At the request of congressional investigators, we are also sharing those account handles with Congress. In total, during the time period we investigated, the 3,814 identified IRA-linked accounts posted 175,993 Tweets, approximately 8.4% of which were election-related.

We have also provided Congress with the results of our supplemental analysis into activity believed to be automated, election-related activity originating out of Russia during the election period. Through our supplemental analysis, we have identified 13,512 additional accounts, for a total of 50,258 automated accounts that we identified as Russian-linked and Tweeting election-related content during the election period, representing approximately two one-hundredths of a percent (0.016%) of the total accounts on Twitter at the time.  However any such activity represents a challenge to democratic societies everywhere, and we’re committed to continuing to work on this important issue.

Enhancing Information Quality

After the 2016 election, we launched our Information Quality initiative to further develop strategies to detect and prevent bad actors from abusing our platform. We have since made significant improvements, while recognizing that we have more to do as these patterns of activity develop and shift over time.

With our current capabilities, we detect and block approximately 523,000 suspicious logins daily for being generated through automation. In December 2017, our systems identified and challenged more than 6.4 million suspicious accounts globally per week— a 60% increase in our detection rate from October 2017. We have developed new techniques for identifying malicious automation (such as near-instantaneous replies to Tweets, non-random Tweet timing, and coordinated engagement). We have improved our phone verification process and introduced new challenges, including reCAPTCHAs to validate that a human is in control of an account.

Alongside these improvements, we’re continuing to expand enforcement of our developer and automation rules. Since June 2017, we’ve removed more than 220,000 applications in violation of our rules, collectively responsible for more than 2.2 billion low-quality Tweets.

In 2018, we will build upon our existing improvements. Our plans include:

  • Investing further in machine-learning capabilities that help us detect and mitigate the effect on users of fake, coordinated, and automated account activity;
  • Limiting the ability of users to perform coordinated actions across multiple accounts in Tweetdeck and via the Twitter API;
  • Continuing the expansion of our new developer onboarding process to better manage the use cases for developers building on Twitter’s API. This will help us improve how we enforce our policies on restricted uses of our developer products, including rules on the appropriate use of bots and automation.

Media Literacy and Partnerships

We recognize that Twitter is an important part of a larger ecosystem of how news and information spreads online, and that we have a responsibility to support external programs that empower our users, connecting them with resources to give them control over their online experience.

Our partners Common Sense Media, the National Association for Media Literacy, the Family Online Safety Institute and Connect Safely, amongst others, have helped us to craft materials and conduct workshops to help our users learn how to process online information and understand which sources of news have integrity. We focus on elements like verification of sources, critical thinking, active citizenship online and the breaking down of digital divides.

Learn more about our most recent efforts for Media Literacy Week in countries like the U.S., Canada and Ireland, and follow our partners @MediaLiteracyEd@CommonSenseEdu and @ConnectSafely for new initiatives like the Teachers Institute at Twitter HQ.

Twitter is proud to partner with journalistic NGOs for trainings and outreach initiatives, including Reporters without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. We will keep working with reporters, journalism NGOs, and media organizations to ensure that Twitter’s full capabilities are built into newsrooms and established media outlets worldwide.

Moving Forward

Even as we continue to learn from the events of the 2016 U.S. election, we are taking steps every day to improve the security of our platform and stay one step ahead of those who would abuse it. As part of our preparations for the U.S. midterm elections, our teams are organizing to:

  • Verify major party candidates for all statewide and federal elective offices, and major national party accounts, as a hedge against impersonation;
  • Maintain open lines of communication to federal and state election officials to quickly escalate issues that arise;
  • Address escalations of account issues with respect to violations of Twitter Rules or applicable laws;
  • Continually improve and apply our anti-spam technology to address networks of malicious automation targeting election-related matters; and
  • Monitor trends and spikes in conversations relating to the 2018 elections for potential manipulation activity.

We are committed to ensuring that Twitter is safe and secure for all users and serves to advance healthy civic discussion and engagement. Our work on these issues will never be done, and we will continue in our efforts to protect Twitter against bad actors and networks of malicious automation and manipulation.