Trump supporters, conservatives rage over Russian bot purge, #TwitterLockOut

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Some prominent conservatives and white supremacists on Twitter lost thousands of followers Wednesday after Twitter purged its service of numerous automated "bot" accounts.

"Twitter's tools are apolitical, and we enforce our rules without political bias". The apparent cause was the latest culling by Twitter of accounts that in some way violated the company's terms of service, a Twitter spokesperson told Ars, including "behaviors that indicate automated activity or violations of our policies around having multiple accounts, or abuse".

Twitter says that any app or service that allows Twitter users to perform simultaneous actions from multiple accounts must be in compliance with the policy updates by March 23, 2018.

Many report losing a significant number of followers, while other users report being locked out of their accounts and being instructed to share a phone number in order to regain access to their accounts.

Other fake accounts have been traced to Russian-backed agents that the US government says are working to sow political discord in the country. That's why some people may be experiencing suspensions or locks, the company said.

Conservatives have long accused Twitter of targeting them specifically.

The social network has suspended numerous suspected bot accounts since the 2016 Presidential election. Researchers say as many as 15 per cent of users could be fake, a number Twitter says is much lower. In hearings a year ago, US lawmakers criticized Twitter for not taking the Russian bot scourge seriously enough. Some argue President Donald Trump, Twitter's most influential users, should be banned for bullying opponents.

The steps are part of Twitter's ongoing battle to reduce the amount of spam and bot activity now taking place on the site.

The action follows an indictment announced last week by special counsel Robert Mueller against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian firms. The suit filed in San Francisco Superior Court alleges Twitter violated a California law that protects free speech in public spaces.

Twitter announced Wednesday a crackdown on accounts powered by software "bots" which can artificially amplify a person or cause and which have been accused of manipulating the social network during the 2016 USA election. Johnson said the tweet was not intended as a threat.

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