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Updates around our #AusVotes2019 election integrity efforts

By Kara Hinesley
Wednesday, 24 April 2019

#Auspol has been the most Tweeted about hashtag in Australia for the last five years, so ensuring the political conversation is healthy and reliable during the #AusVotes campaign is a key priority for Twitter.

As we lead into the Federal Election, we'd like to share some updates on the work we've been doing to protect and enhance the health of the public conversation at this pivotal cultural and political moment.

As we announced late last year, we’ve made a number of changes to our product, policies and approach to enforcement to address the behaviors which distort and detract from the public conversation on Twitter - particularly those which can surface at critical moments such as elections.

Evolving our product

We continue to make improvements to the Twitter product to help people stay informed and to see the best content first. For example, we recently updated the timeline personalisation setting to allow people to select a strictly reverse-chronological experience. This provides account holders with more control over how they experience what’s happening on our service.

Updating the Twitter Rules

We updated the Twitter Rules to provide clearer guidance on several key issues including fake accounts, attributed activity and distribution of hacked materials. In the area of fake accounts, we have expanded our rules to better reflect how we identify fake accounts, and what types of inauthentic activities are violative. In the area of attributed activity, we expanded our enforcement approach to include accounts that deliberately mimic or are intended to replace accounts we have previously suspended for violating our rules. In the area of hacked materials, we expanded the criteria for when we will take action on accounts which claim responsibility for a hack. This includes threats and public incentives to hack specific people and accounts.

Addressing manipulation on the service

We continue to invest intensively to identify and combat bad-faith actors who try to manipulate the service. Twitter fights platform manipulation (including spam and malicious automation) strategically and at scale. We have developed machine learning tools that identify and take action on networks of spammy or automated accounts automatically. This lets us tackle attempts to manipulate conversations at scale, across languages and time zones, without relying on reactive reports.

We introduced a new registration process for developers requesting access to our APIs to prevent the registration of spammy and low quality apps, and we are continuing to roll out improvements to our proactive enforcement against common policy violations. This includes building new proprietary systems to identify and remove ban evaders at speed and scale. We continue to make strong progress, and have suspended 100,000 accounts for creating new accounts after a suspension during the first quarter of 2019 alone –– a 45% increase from the same time last year.

Scaling our internal team

Similar to the model we put in place for other recent elections around the world such as the U.S., Brazil, and Mexico, we’ve formed an internal, cross functional elections group to lead our electoral integrity work from now through polling day. Using our proprietary-built internal tools, the team proactively protects trends, supports partner escalations, and identifies potential threats from malicious actors.

Launching the Ads Transparency Center in Australia

As we announced in February, we’re expanding our Political Campaigning Policy and Ads Transparency Center to include Australia. This allows anyone across the globe to view all ads that have been served on Twitter, with even more details on political campaigning ads including ad spend and targeting demographics. More information can be found here.

Working with political parties and election officials in Australia

We are continuing transparent and consistent communication with political parties from across the spectrum, as well as the Australian Electoral Commission (@AusElectoralCom), so that they know how to report suspicious, abusive, and rule-violating activity to Twitter.

We launched a dedicated, elections-specific support portal for election partners to provide feedback directly to us about issues and concerns that could arise during the 2019 Federal Election. This process is designed to ensure we receive and review critical feedback about emerging issues as quickly as possible.

During elections, we work closely with political parties across the spectrum to train them on using Twitter to best engage with their constituents. Our public verification process is currently closed, however with the upcoming elections, we are working with Australian political parties to verify candidates, elected officials, and relevant party officials whose accounts will be active in the public conversation.

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Transparency in how we develop and enforce our policies

Twitter is a platform where voices from across the spectrum can be seen and heard. We are committed to the principles of openness, transparency, and impartiality.

Whether it’s trends, how we enforce our policies, or the content that appears in your timeline, we believe in impartiality and do not take any actions based upon political viewpoints. Our product and policies are never developed nor evolved on the basis of political ideology.

We deeply respect the integrity of the election process and are committed to providing a service that fosters and facilitates free and open democratic debate.  

This is a constant process of learning and we gain insights from every election around the world, which helps inform our approach to this evolving challenge. The 2019 Federal Election is a priority for the company and our dedicated cross functional team is working to ensure that the health of the public conversation is enhanced and protected at this important time.

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@karahinesley‎

Kara Hinesley

‎@karahinesley‎‎

Head of Public Policy, Australia and New Zealand

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