Social media platforms fight bots through automation, causing only worse problemsBy Vadim Dovganyuk
It’s a regular part of pretty much anyone’s life these days, social media.
Most of us visit it at least once a day, if not more, far more even.
However, you might be surprised about how many people have experienced being suspended, or banned as people also will call it.
According to pretty much every source I could find online, it’s about 50% of us.
Which could be true, I would not know, I just know that I have been suspended myself as well before, once on Twitter, once on VK. Both times the suspensions got reversed, but that feeling of annoyance remains.
And let’s be clear for a moment, most often these suspensions don’t happen because of any valid reason.
In my case, I got suspended at VK literally for being Ukrainian, a reason which is plain discrimination, that’s clear to anyone.
And as for Twitter… Well, that’s why I am writing this blog post right now…
The reason why I previously got temporarily suspended on Twitter was quite simple, the way I shared messages, the so-called Tweets, were written in a way that Twitter classified as automatic behaviour. To be more precise than just that, I previously combined a custom written message, with an image quote and a song, which both had a similar message as what I wrote myself.
An example of this:
The reason I chose to use Twitter that way was quite simple, I am actually not great with words. Well, at least I don’t feel strong with words. Maybe I’m mistaken, you can determine if I am yourself…
However, that’s only 1 of the ways Twitter flags profiles as possibly being automated, as being bots, and therefore requiring suspending.
Bots are actually far easier, and more correctly, able to be recognized by following a certain style, like the 1 to 5 posts a day style, but okay, that’s beyond the point for this post.
Anyhow, other ways include retweeting too often, tweeting too much, sharing too many URLs, sharing posts without any text, and some more reasons.
Now, there’s no true problem with accounts getting flagged for suspension this way, if the accounts were verified by humans before suspensions happened, but that’s not the case.
Before anything else, let’s take a moment to realize that I am hardly the only one who has problems voicing himself, many people with selective mutism, mutism, an autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia, a form of aphasia, intellectual disability, a mood disorder like depression, an anxiety disorder, and those with quite some other neurological, mental, and behavioural disorders, have problems voicing themselves as well.
We all handle our difficulties in different ways, especially when it comes to social media platforms like Twitter, but it’s actually common among the previously named people, if they actually have a problem voicing themselves online, to interact in the ways Twitter recognizes as possible automated behaviour, which causes a lot of people to eventually be incorrectly suspended. But worse than that, it tends to also create another problem, social anxiety, as having a suspension reversed by social media platforms is very uncommon. Generally, you will either end up creating a new profile, or just quitting the platform completely.
And while this seems to be regarded as a win by these platforms, people instead will feel down, taken the life out of them, and angry towards the platform for not doing their job correctly.
The feeling down slowly moves towards depression(not to be confused with the disorder with the same name) as time moves forward, thoughts are spinning in the heads of people, and the social problems many already have these days, and are sometimes also related to not being to voice ourselves, get amplified in such ways that social anxiety, and even social anxiety disorder, comes into play. And that’s not the end of it, as generally that keeps circling and circling, which could spiral out control, quite some times ending with suicide.
Which is also caused partially by a part related to this, which is today’s importance of certain parts of our social media profiles, like the amount of followers or friends you have. It’s crazy, but somehow people regard having more followers as having more reputation.
Let’s take a moment to voice that this is utter nonsense. I have quite some followers on Twitter, but I never interact with the majority of them, mostly caused actually by my social problems, but okay. For those people who believe that followers means reputation, you might want to know that the majority of followers of the celebs you possibly follow are even bots and inactive profiles. Followers should say nothing about someone’s reputation or popularity, please learn that if you don’t know so already.
Anyhow, let me just skip forward and towards the point I am trying to make here, as too many others have voiced the complete story I could make of what I shared above.
When it comes to social media platforms like Twitter, but also Facebook, Instagram, VK, Pinterest, Foursquare, YouTube, LinkedIn, and every other platform there is, they have a need to wake up and stop fighting automation with automation.
I understand, it’s hard to fight bots and the other forms of bad, like trolls and bullies, on these platforms. However, by fighting it with automation, these platforms have turned into what they dread, which is a negative part of the community. But beyond that, the social media platforms of today are an active part in some of our society’s worst problems, like the far too high amount of suicides among today’s youth.
And it’s not like there is no solution to the problem. As Twitter is once again a good example to use at this. Twitter has not only the verification mark every platform uses these days, but also the translator mark, for those who participated in their, nowadays closed, translating initiative.
Introduce a new mark, something like a “voice of the community” mark, and give these people the power to verify if the accounts that are marked by the automated system are awful, or if they are incorrectly flagged. Add a safeguard which disallows the same person to repeatedly mark an account as incorrectly flagged, taking away the possibility of the system to be abused through friendships and other means. And add a form for those who want to voice they have been incorrectly suspended even after the manual check. The latter being the only messages which will be sent to the dedicated support teams the platform has. This would solve the problems that are there now. But also lessen the workload of the support team, which currently take far and far too long to respond to our problems.
And to ensure that the people who have this mark are trustworthy, reach out to your own employees to ask who they believe are trustworthy and active enough to engage in such role. Many of the people working at these platforms also have personal profiles, and are actively engaged in the community, and therefore knowledgeable enough about who is active and trustworthy.
As trust me, this could, and probably would, actually work. Especially because these marks have a lot of power within the communities. Let’s not forget that those with the verified and translator marks tend to get followed back more often than those who don’t have such mark, proving my point of it having some value.
It will require some work, it will take some time, but seriously, any platform who would introduce such system and will reduce the amount of incorrect suspensions has gold in their hands. As it would not only cause people to stick true to their loved platforms, eventually meaning more money for the platform. It would also decrease the depression that is spreading, and the consequences related to it.
It would be a win-win, and I just hope the social media platforms are smart enough to open their eyes to this, as even if they don’t do it for the people, they could do it to increase their profits…
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About The Author
Owner of this blog. Ukrainian Jew of Polish and Russian descent. Citizen of 8 countries, as well as the European Union. Of Crimean Karaite heritage. Generally impartial at politics. Political syncretist. Opinionated but willing to listen to anyone's opinion. Certified mastering of 51 languages. Works in service of Sony. Active in support of orphans, foundlings, and other children without parental care in Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Moldova, and Kazakhstan. Supporter of adoption and foster care. Mentor of 9 children. Previous foundling who now has been adopted. Diagnosed with health and mental health issues, but not disabled. Has a great love for anime, gaming, and TV series. Philanthropist. Social pedagogy graduate.