Twitter has been on a bit of a suspension spree of late, and its latest targets are Trump bots.
For those unfamiliar with the term, Twitter is home to tens of millions of automated accounts, known as bots. These types of accounts come in various shapes and sizes — some simply reply to or retweet accounts that use select words or phrases, others bulk follow users, and some tweet out spam links. Bots are sometimes programmed to congregate around more popular users of the service. One such profile they’ve increasingly targeted is that of President-elect Donald Trump.
Now, Twitter has decided to take action against some of Trump’s most-rabid automated followers by suspending them. This week, the platform targeted several bots known for immediately responding to Trump’s tweets with replies containing spam and memes, reports Motherboard. The accounts include @patrioticpepe, @RichiJMiller, and @ErikaPiris.
Twitter’s support page states the following about its policy regarding automated replies: “The reply and mention functions are intended to make communication between users easier, and automating these processes in order to reach many users is considered an abuse of the feature.” The company takes a similar stance in relation to automated retweeting, and automated following.
Like other Twitter accounts with massive followings, Trump’s boasts a legion of devoted bots — according to an analysis conducted by the TwitterAudit tool during election season, as much as 39 percent of Trump’s then 4.62 million followers were not real. Since then, his follower count has spiked to reach 17 million. That’s not to say Trump’s is the only account with an army of bot devotees: TwitterAudit also found that almost a third of Hillary Clinton’s follower count was made up of bots.
It’s important to note that not all Twitter bots are worthless, and some tend to share tweets that can range from the humorous to the insightful. Others, such as the @earthquakeBot, post useful emergency alerts.
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