Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal's long thread on spam, evokes Elon Musk reply
New Delhi, May 17: Parag Agrawal in a lengthy thread explained how Twitter fights fake and spam accounts on the platform. The Twitter CEO's post comes just days after Elon Musk said he would put his $44 billion acquisition of the company "on hold".
"First, let me state the obvious: spam harms the experience for real people on Twitter, and therefore can harm our business. As such, we are strongly incentivized to detect and remove as much spam as we possibly can, every single day. Anyone who suggests otherwise is just wrong," the Twitter CEO said.
"Next, spam isn't just 'binary' (human / not human). The most advanced spam campaigns use combinations of coordinated humans + automation. They also compromise real accounts, and then use them to advance their campaign. So - they are sophisticated and hard to catch," Agrawal said.
"Some final context: fighting spam is incredibly dynamic. The adversaries, their goals, and tactics evolve constantly - often in response to our work! You can't build a set of rules to detect spam today, and hope they will still work tomorrow. They will not," he said in the long thread.
"The hard challenge is that many accounts which look fake superficially - are actually real people. And some of the spam accounts which are actually the most dangerous - and cause the most harm to our users - can look totally legitimate on the surface," Agrawal said.
"Our team updates our systems and rules constantly to remove as much spam as possible, without inadvertently suspending real people or adding unnecessary friction for real people when they use Twitter: none of us want to solve a captcha every time we use Twitter," he said.
"Now, we know we aren't perfect at catching spam. And so this is why, after all the spam removal I talked about above, we know some still slips through. We measure this internally. And every quarter, we have estimated that
"Our estimate is based on multiple human reviews (in replicate) of thousands of accounts, that are sampled at random, consistently over time, from *accounts we count as mDAUs*. We do this every quarter, and we have been doing this for many years," the twutter CEO said.
"Each human review is based on Twitter rules that define spam and platform manipulation, and uses both public and private data (eg, IP address, phone number, geolocation, client/browser signatures, what the account does when it's active...) to make a determination on each account," Agrawal posted.
"There are LOTS of details that are very important underneath this high-level description," he said in a tweet. "We shared an overview of the estimation process with Elon a week ago and look forward to continuing the conversation with him, and all of you."
Have you tried just calling them?— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 16, 2022
Musk responded to Agrawal's tweets with a smiling feces emoji. He later added: "So how do advertisers know what they're getting for their money? This is fundamental to the financial health of Twitter."