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Twitter takes legal action against spammers

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Twitter has started getting tough with the "malicious activity" of spam tweets on the site by filing lawsuits against some of the biggest perpetrators.

In a blog post yesterday, Twitter said that spam makes up a "small fraction" of the microblogging site, but acknowledged how "distracting" it can be for users.

The social network, which now claims 140m active users sending more than 340m tweets every day, said that recent expansion has seen it become a more attractive target for spammers.

Twitter engineers have worked to combat the efforts of spammers to circumvent security safeguards, but the company is now taking the fight into the law courts.

One of the biggest problems facing Twitter is "bad actors" who build tools specifically designed to distribute spam, making it easier for spammers to engage in the "annoying and potentially malicious activity".

Yesterday morning, Twitter filed suit in a federal court in San Francisco against five of the "most aggressive tool providers and spammers", which it said was about going "straight to the source" of the problem.

"By shutting down tool providers, we will prevent other spammers from having these services at their disposal. Further, we hope the suit acts as a deterrent to other spammers, demonstrating the strength of our commitment to keep them off Twitter," said the company.

"While this is an important step, our efforts to combat spam don't stop here. Our engineering team continues to implement robust technical solutions that help us proactively reduce spam."

Earlier in the week, Twitter engineers introduced new anti-spam measures to the site that "more aggressively suspend a new type of @ mention spam".

Technical teams are also using Twitter's link shortener (t.co) to analyse if a tweeted link leads to any malware or malicious content - although this doesn't extend to other link shorteners, such as the popular bitly.

But Twitter said that these measures have helped it shut down "hundreds of thousands of abusive accounts", and asked users to help by reporting and blocking any spammers they encounter on the site.

"We are committed to fighting spam on all fronts, by continuing to grow our anti-spam team and using every tool at our disposal to shut down spammers. Today marks an important step forward," said Twitter.

Last week, a US man revealed that he was making more than $1,000 (£630) a day from posting spam links on Pinterest, claiming that the new social network is the "easiest" site to exploit.

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