Tech

Twitter plans to limit the visibility of copied-and-pasted spam tweets

Copypasta tweets have been used for spreading political propaganda and spam.

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Twitter announced from its @TwitterComms account today that it may begin limiting the visibility of tweets that use phrases copied from other accounts. The social network frequently sees floods of accounts re-posting the same messages in order to spread political propaganda or hateful messages targeted at a particular user and sway public opinion.

Surely conservatives will use this chance to further claim that Twitter is censoring them. The company says it doesn't block or reduce the distribution of tweets based on an individual's views, but it does take action against behavior deemed spammy. Copying and pasting the same exact tweets repeatedly is spam.

Disinformation campaigns — The NBA was recently forced to cancel games after teams walked out en masse in order to strike against racism. A deluge of tweets directed at an ESPN journalist repeated the phrase, "I'm done with NBA. It's turned into an extension of the far left. Won't watch. Don't care. Used to enjoy games. Enough is enough." It's unclear whether many or all of the accounts tweeting the phrase were bots, but investigations often find coordinated networks are behind such activity. The aim is to influence people by making it appear as if the sentiment is leaning in one particular direction even though it's often only a handful of people directing many accounts.

Twitter says it "may" limit the visibility of copy-and-pasted tweets, but doesn't specify more than that, like what limited visibility might look like. The company already limits some violating tweets by hiding them behind a warning message that users must click through to see the tweet. Users have responded to Twitter's latest statement by replying to it with the same exact message, because apparently all Twitter users are 6-year-olds.

Twitter has been trying to clean up its network and introduced a new metric in 2018 called "healthy conversation" to measure the civility of conversations on its platform. Behavior like spam and bullying creates a toxic environment that leads many people to ditch the network in the interest of their mental health.