Twitter's crackdown on fake accounts isn’t sitting well with a lot of users, mostly right-wing users.
The social media website has been busy taking down bot accounts, suspected of being involved in spreading disinformation.
Recently, Twitter has been under widespread scrutiny for providing a platform, inadvertently or not, to Russia, thereby facilitating foreign intervention in elections of 2016.
Special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian firms who are alleged to have conducted "information warfare against the United States" through social media.
Now, Twitter has decided to play its role in curbing spammers in order to prevent misuse of their platform.
In recent days, many users have logged in, only to to find their accounts suspended. They aren’t given back access until they provide a phone number, which is further verified by the company to ensure the user is real.
The microblogging site’s rampant removal of accounts left numerous users baffled and, in certain cases, enraged. The outcry is coming from all directions, ranging from users complaining about losing a lot of their followers overnight or from Republicans who believe the crackdown is unjustly harsh to them. White supremacists and prominent conservatives lost a lot of followers, inspiring them to start the hashtag #TwitterLockout, which was trending on Wednesday morning.
Twitter responded to accusations by disavowing bias.
"Twitter's tools are apolitical, and we enforce our rules without political bias," Twitter officials said amid the outcry. "Every day we proactively look for suspicious account behaviors that indicate inorganic or automated activity, violations of our policies around having multiple accounts, or abuse.
"And every day we take action on any accounts we find that violate our terms of service, including by asking account owners to confirm a phone number so we can confirm a human is behind it.
"This is part of our ongoing, comprehensive efforts to make Twitter safer and healthier for everyone."
Twitter also generated instructions for users holding multiple accounts and using automation.
Technical researchers, who are aware of repercussions of digital disinformation, are backing-up Twitter’s initiative.
"This is a company that's under a lot of heat to clean up its act in terms of how its platform has been exploited to spread misinformation and junk news. It now needs to rebuild trust with users and a legislator to show it is trying to take action against these threats against democracy," Samantha Bradshaw from the University of Oxford's Computational Propaganda Project explained.
Even after explicitly stating all their reasons behind the crackdown, some users remain upset.
#twitterlockout is real -- but, we can use it to our advantage. Use the hashtag.. find good, solid people to follow. It's that simple. This was a mistake by twitter.. big time. Not cool.. but, will back fire!— Joe Pags Pagliarulo (@JoeTalkShow) February 21, 2018
That twitter attack on conservatives hit me too last night. I was deemed “ineligible” to use twitter ads and had followers purged. @twitter should ashamed, we have to organize a response. #TwitterLockOut pic.twitter.com/1Df4jY3Vv6— Dan Bongino (@dbongino) February 21, 2018
If there’s anything that doesn’t change on the Internet, it is diversity of opinions. There are a lot of users who believe the controversy surrounding Twitter’s efforts of dealing with spammers is just absurd.
Only deplorables would consider having to verify your account with a phone number as being censorship. Don't be a bot or troll and it's not a problem. ???? #TwitterLockOut— ??Angelia?? (@an_e_la) February 21, 2018
Wait, what? Twitter locked you out and you have to verify your phone number? Oh the horror of it all!— Brad (@Relax_For_Real) February 21, 2018
Hey, conspiracy theorist, just verify your damn number and move on with your life.....bunch of snowflakes.
If I'm following #TwitterLockout correctly, people think their rights to free speech are being infringed by not allowing accounts that aren't real people to follow them?— Anthony De Rosa ?? (@Anthony) February 21, 2018
People are also not sparing Republicans, who accuse Twitter of discriminating against them.
NEVER SURRENDER!!— CoreyJones???? (@CoreyLMJones) February 22, 2018
I’ve seen so much resilience from all of the conservative voices that have been under attack.
Instead of quitting, instead of shutting up, instead of backing down...
This is a movement!
It’s gonna take A LOT more to stop us!#MAGA #twitterlockout pic.twitter.com/kqvVHrwiWT
Other users are just genuinely skeptical about Twitter’s efforts and are asking for an explanation.
Hello @jack a lot of people are asking about #TwitterLockOut could the company please provide the criteria for erasing followers while folks sleep. I know there is a lot of pressure to be more responsible in curbing certain actions but that shouldn't extend to muting opinions— Charles V Payne (@cvpayne) February 21, 2018
After facing criticism from U.S. lawmakers for allegedly letting Russia intervene right under their nose, Twitter was bound to tighten their regulations, whether or not conservatives approve of it.