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Tue Nov 29 00:23:26 PST 2022
Twitter Suffers From "Ridiculous" Number Of "Psy Ops", Elon Musk Says
Twitter owner Elon Musk said Monday that the platform suffers from a
“ridiculous” number of professional psychological operations (or, “psy
ops”), a concept that typically refers to the dissemination of
propaganda or, when used by state actors like the military,
psychological warfare tactics meant to manipulate one’s enemies.
“The amount of pro psy ops on Twitter is ridiculous!” Musk wrote in a
post on Twitter.
He added jokingly that “at least with new Verified, they will pay $8
for the privilege—haha.”
Musk later qualified his statement, responding to a Twitter user’s
comment that the psychological operations are “mid”-level rather than
professional. Musk conceded that “it’s mostly basic.”
While it’s not clear what, specifically, Musk was referring to in his
post on the prevalence of “pro psy ops,” Twitter has, in the past,
struggled to deal with foreign state-linked information operations on
the platform, including activity it has deemed malicious.
‘Foreign Interference in Political Conversations’
In 2018, Twitter stated in a blog post that it had identified
thousands of accounts that made more than 10 million tweets associated
with “foreign interference in political conversations” on the
“It is clear that information operations and coordinated
inauthentic behavior will not cease. These types of tactics have been
around for far longer than Twitter has existed—they will adapt and
change as the geopolitical terrain evolves worldwide and as new
technologies emerge,” the company said at the time.
Later, in December 2021, Twitter announced it had removed more than
3,000 accounts that were operating as foreign state-linked information
operations, including from China, Russia, and Venezuela.
Twitter said that, in most cases, the accounts were suspended for
various violations of its platform manipulation and spam policies,
which include prohibitions against using Twitter in ways that
“artificially amplify or suppress information or engage in behavior
that manipulates or disrupts people’s experience” on the platform.
Prohibited actions include artificially inflating followers or
engagement by, for instance, buying “likes” or coordinating to
exchange “follows,” in what’s known as “reciprocal inflation.”
‘Widely Diverse Viewpoints’
The company also said it would launch the Twitter Moderation Research
Consortium (TMRC), a program that lets outside researchers tap into
Twitter data to study trends and study platform governance issues.
While there have been questions about the fate of the research
consortium since Musk took over Twitter in late October, he later
announced he was ordering the establishment of a “content moderation
council” that would represent “widely diverse viewpoints.”
Musk, who has labeled himself as a “free-speech absolutist,” has vowed
to make the platform more welcoming to various viewpoints while
insisting he wouldn’t allow it to become a “free-for-all hellscape.”
At the time, former President Donald Trump praised Musk for succeeding
with his takeover bid of Twitter and praised the tech mogul’s moves to
open Twitter up to diverse views.
“I am very happy that Twitter is now in sane hands, and will no
longer be run by Radical Left Lunatics and Maniacs that truly hate our
country,” Trump said in post on Truth Social, though he indicated that
he might not return to Twitter even if Musk were to reinstate his
account, which at the time was suspended.
Musk has since restored Trump’s account on Twitter, along with a
series of other banned accounts, including that of satirical site
Babylon Bee and Jordan Peterson, a controversial professor of
Trump hasn’t posted anything on Twitter since his account was
reinstated, with his last post being from Jan. 8, 2021, when the
former president said he wouldn’t be going to the presidential
inauguration of Joe Biden.
Musk said recently he’s “fine” with Trump not posting on Twitter,
adding that the social media giant had made a “grave mistake” when it
banned the former president from the platform.
“Deplatforming a sitting president undermined public trust in
Twitter for half of America,” Musk said.
Since Musk took over Twitter, he has vowed to reduce the number of
bots on the platform and curb inauthentic activity.
Twitter paused its recently announced $8 verified blue check
subscription service after a wave of blue check accounts appeared on
the platform, impersonating big brands and making embarrassing posts.
Musk said recently that the verified check service would be returning
on Dec. 2, adding that Twitter would also be rolling out gold and gray
checks in addition to blue ones, and that all verified marks would be
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