New Report: Removal of misbehaving Twitter users slower for Russian than English

The Latvian elections of October 2018 coincided with minimal Russian-language Twitter-messaging about the NATO presence, the latest Robotrolling report by NATO StratCom COE concludes.

This quarter Robotrolling examines users suspended by Twitter. Contrary to expectation, most of the accounts were human-controlled accounts rather than bots. Since 2017, the speed at which Twitter suspended misbehaving users has by two measures almost doubled. However, removals of Russian-language accounts have been considerably slower than for English. This discrepancy between languages indicates that reporting and moderating procedures for Russian are currently less effective than for English.

Robotrolling analyses social media manipulation about the NATO presence in the Baltic States and Poland. In the period 1 August – 31 October 2018, Russian-language bots created 46% of all Russian-language messages about NATO in the Baltic States and Poland. Of the accounts posting in Russian, 30% were automated. In comparison, bots made up 12% of accounts tweeting in English. These bots created 17% of all English-language messages this quarter.

In the English-language space, disposable manually operated accounts dominate the conversation, especially about the US-led NATO presence in Poland.

Twitter’s efforts to enforce the rules governing its platform continue to bear fruit, especially with regards to reducing the presence of robotic accounts. However, as manipulators abandon automated accounts in favour of disposable human-controlled accounts, social media platforms must ensure their detection mechanisms keep up with the change.