Twitter launches spam awareness drive in MENA

Twitter launched the campaign on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 27 November 2019

Twitter launches spam awareness drive in MENA

  • Twitter wants to educate people about the safety tools they can make use of to identify spam behavior

RIYADH: A major campaign to raise awareness about internet spam among social media users in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region was launched by Twitter on Monday.

The platform shared a series of videos in Arabic on its @TwitterMENA account as part of a safety drive aimed at helping people to identify and report unsolicited online communications.

George Salama, Twitter’s MENA head of public policy, government and philanthropy, told Arab News: “We have launched the social awareness campaign to educate people on Twitter about how to deal with spam and to highlight our efforts around the health of the public conversation in the region.

“We want to educate people about the safety tools they can make use of, such as the ability to report the type of spam, in addition to tips and techniques to help identify spam behavior.”

He said spam was a kind of platform manipulation and could take many forms. It could be commercially motivated to divert attention from a Twitter conversation to certain products and initiatives or associated to inauthentic engagements that attempted to make accounts appear more popular than they were.

Sometimes referred to as junk, it could also take the form of coordinated activity that attempted to artificially influence conversations through the use of multiple accounts, fake accounts or automation, Salama added.

“We use the term (anti-spam challenges) to describe our process for confirming whether a human is in control of an account we suspect is engaging in platform manipulation.”

FASTFACTS

• Twitter challenged 291 million accounts for spammy behavior in the 12 months between July 2018 and June 2019.

• 50 percent fewer accounts were challenged in the first half of 2019 compared with the second half of 2018.

• Approximately 75 percent of challenged accounts failed the tests and were ultimately suspended.

For example, Twitter may require an account holder to verify a phone number or email address, or complete a reCAPTCHA test (to tell humans and robot software apps apart), he said, adding that these challenges were simple for authentic platform users to solve, but difficult or costly for spam and malicious account owners to complete.

“Accounts which fail to complete a challenge within a specified period of time may be suspended. We challenged 291 million accounts for spammy behavior in the 12 months between July 2018 and June 2019,” said Salama, noting that 50 percent fewer accounts were challenged in the first half of 2019 compared with the second half of 2018.

The Twitter official pointed out that approximately 75 percent of challenged accounts failed the tests and were ultimately suspended.




George Salama, Twitter head of public policy & government relations for MENA. (Photo/Supplied)

“We have made a number of investments in machine learning including the acquisition of Fabula AI (a London startup), which focused initially on expanding applications to stop spam,” he said.

Machine learning played a key role in Twitter’s attempts to serve the public conversation, he said, and Fabula AI had employed a world-class team of researchers to detect network manipulation. 

“In September, we expanded our policies to prohibit financial scams. We want Twitter to be a place where people can make human connections and find reliable information.”

Salama added that Twitter wanted to stop people from using its services to deceive others into sending them money or personal financial information via scam tactics, phishing, or other fraudulent methods.

“Using scam tactics on Twitter to obtain money or private financial information is prohibited under this policy. People are not allowed to create accounts, post tweets, or send direct messages that solicit engagement in such fraudulent schemes,” he added.


Top UK band Jamiroquai lauds ‘magical’ concert venue for Saudi fest performance

Updated 57 sec ago

Top UK band Jamiroquai lauds ‘magical’ concert venue for Saudi fest performance

  • Jay Kay: “We were delighted to be invited to this ancient and unique city and are eager to learn more about its culture and history”
  • During their career, Jamiroquai have sold more than 26 million albums worldwide

ALULA: The lead singer of world-famous band Jamiroquai has said he “can’t wait” to perform at AlUla’s “magical” concert venue this weekend.

The award-winning English funk and acid jazz group will be taking to the stage at the Maraya Concert Hall during the second Winter at Tantora festival.

Singer-songwriter and the band’s lead vocalist, Jay Kay, said: “We were delighted to be invited to this ancient and unique city and are eager to learn more about its culture and history.

“We also can’t wait to see how our funky sounds work in what looks like a truly one-of-a-kind venue, the magical, mirrored Maraya Concert Hall. It is a privilege to be able to play around the world and look forward to bringing the party to AlUla.”

The hall is the largest mirror-constructed theater in the world, can hold 500 people, and is fitted with a high-quality sound system. The event, organized by the Royal Commission for AlUla, is being held in the city to showcase its unique location, scenic landscapes, history and culture.

Jamiroquai, from London, will perform a selection of their greatest hits which helped define music in the 1990s and beyond.

Fronted by Kay, the group was formed in 1992, and is best known for hits including “Canned Heat,” “Virtual Insanity,” which won video of the year at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards, and “Deeper Underground,” which topped the charts in the UK. All eight of their albums made it into the British top 10 charts with three reaching the No. 1 spot.  

During their career, Jamiroquai have sold more than 26 million albums worldwide. Their third album, “Traveling Without Moving” (1996), was named in the Guinness Book of Records as the best-selling funk album in history.

The band also won the Ivor Novello Award for outstanding song collection from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, in addition to a Grammy, two Billboard Music Awards, and 16 nominations for The BRIT Awards. The Winter at Tantora festival includes many other attractions including local markets, a winter garden, farms and the Old Town of AlUla.

Over the course of 12 weeks, the festival is presenting a range of activities merging Eastern and Western culture, embodying AlUla’s heritage as a meeting point for different civilizations from around the world.

The event takes place every weekend until March 7, and visitors will get the chance to tour the historic heritage sites before they close to the public until October this year. Musical and artistic performances by some of the most respected Arab and international artists will also be staged.