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.


Misk journeys into the past to celebrate Saudi Arabia’s national day

Updated 23 September 2020

Misk journeys into the past to celebrate Saudi Arabia’s national day

  • The journey begins at dawn from Turaif district in Diriyah
  • The campaign will shed light on historical locations

JEDDAH: In celebration of the 90th Saudi National Day, the Misk Foundation has launched a campaign highlighting the Kingdom’s heritage, featuring a video, cinema advertisement and a bicycle race through some of the country’s key historical sites.

The campaign will shed light on historical locations and the influential people who helped build the Kingdom. It also aims to highlight the country’s current development and prosperity.

The foundation, represented by Manga Productions, has collaborated with the King Abdul Aziz Foundation for Research and Archives and the Japanese advertising agency Centean to produce “Al-Auja” video, which tells the history of the Kingdom by highlighting heroic figures from the past.

As a first-of-a-kind project, it also documents the Kingdom's history for future generations, including efforts by the founder King Abdul Aziz to unify the country. 

Misk Foundation also released a video clip, “Rasimeen Auloumana,” which focuses on the growth, prosperity and mega-projects in the Kingdom today, while also documenting the population’s achievements and hopes.

The video takes viewers on an imagined journey by the nation’s founder as he discovers the Kingdom’s modern achievements.

The journey begins at dawn from Turaif district in Diriyah, the historical and geographical center of Saudi Arabia, where the first Saudi state was established.

King Abdul Aziz visits cities including King Abdullah Economic City, Umluj, Al-Ula and Jeddah before returning to Riyadh as he did in the past when he conquered the city with an army of only 63 men.

The campaign logo features King Abdul Aziz riding his horse, Obayya, and an imitation of the ruler’s handwriting based on his signature.

The title of the video clip is a quote from the poem of the Saudi traditional dance “Najd Shamat.”

The foundation’s celebrations will end next Wednesday with a bicycle race through key historical sites that the founder passed through during the conquest of Riyadh.

Participants will begin the journey from four sites — Abu Makhrouq Mountain, Manakh King Abdul Aziz Park, the Red Palace and Diriyah governorate — before meeting at the final gathering station, Al-Masmak Fortress.

Abu Makhrouq Mountain was a landmark for trade convoys heading to Riyadh, as well as being a park for the founder and local people.

Films produced for the national day are part of Misk’s visual productions on cultural and national events.

The foundation released several popular films, such as “Hal Al-Auja” and “Kol Meter Murabba’,” for last year’s national day, in addition to “Khuddam Al-Haram” and “Misk Al-Masha’ir” during the last two Hajj seasons.