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12 Dec 2014 05:31

Twitter Inc (TWTR) Could Use Gamergate Autoblocker Model To Block Millions of Fake Accounts?

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Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) has been under immense criticism since past few months because of its confusing interface, lack of ease and security problems. The platform is teeming with harassment, hatred and religious extremism in Tweets. Last month, the company promised some features in order to revamp its interface. The first lot is now rolling out. Twitter’s safety director Shreyas Doshi has announced that Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) has made some changes to make reporting and blocking easy for its users. Now, any user can flag the tweet and block the person. This would help the company to review the flagged accounts and content and take necessary action. This would work on two-way model. As soon as a user blocks a person, he would not be able to see his tweets and the blocked person will also not be able to see the person who blocked him.

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An article on The New York Times reported that Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) is crunched between the tradeoff selections. Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) cannot simply quell the accounts that are coming from anonymous places or TOR browsers. It is also under pressure from authoritarian regimes and agencies to tighten its policies in order to kill the accounts that are spreading hatred, violence and racism. Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) is trying to craft a mechanism that will stop a person from making a second account if his first account was banned. This could only be done by smart identification of machines and IP addresses.

The source also mentioned about an engineer, Randi Harper, who managed to craft an auto blocker for blocking thousands of accounts that were sending tweets full of hatred and anti-women speech. This auto blocker was called Gamergate auto blocker. Gamergate blocker didn’t work as it was expected. It blocked hundreds of users who did not send any harassing tweet. The source quoted Taylor Wofford from Newsweek, who thinks that in spite of the numerous problems in Gamergate blocker, it might be “the best” tool women can use to fight online harassment.  But Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR)  will need to devise a sophisticated plan to deal with billions of tweets that are inappropriate for the society.

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24 Comments

  1. This fantastic tool managed to include rappers, journalists, academics, actors, comedians etc making em blocked for all that used this tool. If you want a echo chamber this could be the best tool out there. No one will ask questions, you will never get to understand your opponents viewpoint and you will live happily afterwards.

    It spares so much grief. I can only recommend.

  2. “This model worked well” What are you talking about? The whole thing was flawed, hence why KFC was on the blocklist among many other random twitter accounts and several celebrities.

    “blocking thousands of accounts that were sending tweets full of hatred and anti-women speech” There is yet to be a single bit of evidence that any of these accounts engaged in said behaviour. Whats worse is a genuine well known troll account was actually moved from the blacklist to the whitelist who had actually been encouraging others to send threats and other hateful messages.

  3. FourButtonSoul on

    Do you have any idea how poorly made the GGAutoBlocker is? It has thousands of accounts based on if they’re following more than two of a certain set of people and people that were on the list included KFCs official Twitter account and Taye Diggs.

    Not to mention that this article is horribly misinformed since I’ve not sent any hateful or harassing tweets to anyone along with thousands of others on the list.

  4. I found myself on that block list and i have never ever harassed anyone in Twitter or anywhere else. This really makes me mad :-/.

  5. Your article is misinformed about what the Gamergate Autoblocker by Randi Harper does. It doesn’t block people who harass others, it blocks people who use a hash tag, #GamerGate, and those who follow certain personalities on Twitter. People who follow those people don’t always agree with them, but just want to understand what their position is. Using it will be ineffective in trying to stop harassment across the board.

    From what I’ve seen none of what gets discussed under that hashtag that shows up in my feed is abusive to anyone. The hashtag and the people Randi blocks are mostly informative about what is going on in the games industry and in games journalism, which, as an artist and a programmer I follow because I might like to work in that field some day.

    There is a consumer revolt going on that some people want silenced.

    I wonder if you are merely misinformed, or if you also want to silence the movement by spreading misinformation about the effectiveness of this autoblocker?

  6. “The source also mentioned about an engineer, Randi Harper, who managed to craft an auto blocker for blocking thousands of accounts that were sending tweets full of hatred and anti-women speech”

    Nope. She made a program that blocked the followers of a handful of people she didn’t like and had harassed in the passed and blocked all their followers. Regardless of whether they harassed anyone or not. Unless you think the official twitter account for KFC harasses women. Because of that, you might want to fact check better as your statement is libelous and leaves you in a legally actionable position.

  7. “The source also mentioned about an engineer, Randi Harper, who managed to craft an auto blocker for blocking thousands of accounts that were sending tweets full of hatred and anti-women speech”

    except that’s not true. she made a list of people who were following other people. that’s it. my name is on that list and I’ve never sent out tweets “full of hatred and anti-women speech”.

  8. Randi Harper’s block list was a joke; while it was being pushed forward by the IGDA, the head of the Puerto Rican Division of the IGDA was there on the blocklist, listed as a harasser of women alongside countless other innocent developers and gamers as part of a mass smear campaign. Twitter will kill itself if they use as irresponsible methods as Miss Harper’s to try to block burner accounts.

  9. Lol, technically clueless much? Twitter doesn’t need “technology” (aka a simple Perl script) to do what you describe, they have and have had the data to do it for years.

  10. Get your facts right, GamerGate is not a hate site. It supports Ethics in Gaming Dev reporting. The more vocal group is the anti group that does not listen to reason, but just posts messages against freedom of speech and ethics. Now if a divergent opinion is going to be censored it is a sad day. You do not hear of the GG community crying foul when an opinion is counter to theirs, only the AGG side does that. A twitter user can already block someone if they do not want to hear a different view point. But for Twitter, or any organization to start censoring speech is just wrong.
    There is true hate speech out there, I may not like what they have to say, but they have the right to say it. Life is tough, some people do not think the way you or I do, but that is life. People need to grow up, get a pair, and learn to deal with the realities this world brings. It is not all rosy where everything said, done, or other fits our prefect little world.

    I cannot believe TechInsider would do this piece without out researching both sides of the story. Every movement has it idiots, GG is not different, but the few should not detract from the many, and the real message GG is pushing. Which is Ethics in Journalism, and I would hope that a publication such as yours would be able to stand behind that,

    Regards
    Ron

  11. It should be noted that this blocker blocked Kentucky Fried Chicken, people who have never tweeted and even the International Game Developer’s own Puerto Rico chapter head. Blocking based on who follows who is just plain bad policy.

  12. Considering Ms Harper’s autoblocker flagged accounts simply based on following two or more “problem” accounts, I would hardly say it “worked well”. Are you honestly suggesting people should face punishment for following “the wrong people” and are guilty by association?

  13. So my first post is still pending moderation? It is not abusive, hateful, or anything. Just questions why you did not get all the facts. Is being critical of an article now grounds to be censored? This is what GamerGate is fighting for, truth in reporting and ethics.

    Lets get the whole story our there on twitter, people being over sensitive and not wanting to hear or even debate opposing opinions.

    Ron

  14. It’s an algorithm that uses source accounts to track who follows two or more of them, then generates a block list. It didn’t block anything to do with “hate speech” only people who follow certain people. People blocked included the IGDA Puerto Rico chairman, several game journalists, and KFC’s corporate twitter account. Because KFC is apparently part of a misogynist hate-speech campaign.

    So no, the model didn’t “work well”.

  15. It is a sad day, when a tech blog praises such a dumb piece of software. You may want to reconsider your statement.

    “The source also mentioned about an engineer, Randi Harper, who managed to craft an auto blocker for blocking thousands of accounts that were sending tweets full of hatred and anti-women speech.”

    She is NOT blocking people who sent tweets “full of hatred and anit-women speech”. She blocks people who follow at least 2 out of 7 people who she claims are the “worst harassers”. IF these people were the “worst harassers” Twitter would have banned them, since harassment is not permitted by their TOS. At best you can declare their tweets as “offensive”.
    She even insults these people in her own source-code as “idiots” and calls anyone follwing them “sheeps”.

    Because this software is so badly written there are many journalists and other, not with GamerGate involved, people on this list.
    One of the most prominent were KFC or a chairman from IGDA Puerto Rico, who had to be put on the whitelist.

    You cannot tell me that creating a list of 10000 people from a list of 7 “worst harassers” is a reliable tool.

  16. who managed to craft an auto blocker for blocking thousands of accounts that were sending tweets full of hatred and anti-women speech

    [citation needed]

  17. The gamergate blocker doesn’t block harassment.
    All it does it take a couple of popular users, compare their followers, and block anyone that follows more than two.
    It didn’t work well at all. In fact, the IGDA used it and blocked some of its members, including the chairman of their puerto rican group.

  18. “This auto blocker was called Gamergate autoblocker. This model worked well.”

    The autoblocker blocked KFC’s official twitter account for hate speech and misogyny. Along with thousands of other innocent accounts, journalists, and members of the press. That’s the opposite of working well. Did the writer look into the toolset?

    To clarify, many names were added to the list by users to satisfy their legitimate demand to block twitter users that reply with counter-arguments, or any sort of disagreement. This is their claim, not mine.

  19. I don’t really think one can call Randi Harper an engineer, its much like saying someone’s a contractor because they watched some episodes of this old house.
    Also lets hope to god twitter doesn’t use the flawed script that Randi put together

  20. Are you nuts? Randi Harper is a harasser (from personal experience, she has harassed me on twitter by her low bar of harassment). the tool DOESN’T WORK – It mass blocks people based on who they follow, indiscriminately, with NO checks and balances. She has doxxed people who request to be taken off the list for the request and the whitelisting process is nothing more than an attempt to determine if a user’s ideology matches that of the creators. That “tool” should NEVER be used by a corporation if they want to continue to have any credibility.

    You need to read up on how those tools work before you recommend them.

  21. You might want to know that the “Gamergate autoblocker” is based solely on blocking accounts that follow a select list of other accounts.

    It’s not even worthy of being called a “model”, as it does not analyze tweets nor identify hatred/anti-women speech. It’s a hyped-up follow blocker, nothing more.

  22. “This model worked well” Shall we ignore how ridiculously inaccurate her blockbot was? Unless you think Kentucky Fried Chicken and Taye Diggs are going around harassing women on Twitter. And you’d think that accounts that had never made a post, that were also blocked, were some of the worst harassers, but let’s ignore that too.
    Shall we ignore how people that she herself admitted were known harassers were not only not being blocked but were being whitelisted?
    And shall we ignore the fact that her blockbot is against Twitter’s rules?

  23. Ha ha, that autoblocker that blocked ‘thousands of accounts that were sending tweets full of hatred or anti-woman’ actually had a known troll and harasser on the whitelist, and blocked several accounts that had never tweeted, ever, companies, developers and celebrities. The creator herself said it wasn’t capturing or rating tweets on sentiment, instead just blocking all that followed certain people.

    With IGDA using it what it does act as is a blacklist (for a while the owner even reffered to some of the programme as a blacklist) blocking any communication from someone who may follow people with opinions conflicting to yours, because heaven forbid somebody may disagree with you.

    May also want to take a look at some of the older archived code, when the positive program refers to people as idiots, stalkers and sheep for following certain people it’s possible it wasn’t created with the best intentions.

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