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How Twitter Is Working to Protect Parkland, Fla. High School Students From Malicious Bots and Trolls

Grace Donnelly
How Twitter Is Working to Protect Parkland, Fla. High School Students From Malicious Bots and Trolls

Twitter is working to shield Parkland, Fla. students from bots and trolls on the platform. Many of the high schoolers are organizing in the wake of the shooting at their school on Feb. 14 that left 17 dead.

As Marjory Stoneman Douglas students continue to speak out about gun control and their follower counts on Twitter rise, there are more instances of online abuse and conspiracy theories about these teenagers.

The claims that students are “crisis actors” paid to take advantage of the tragedy to further political agendas have spread on Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube.

Students like Emma Gonzalez and Cameron Kasky, who have been some of the most vocal in the wake of the shooting, seem to be taking the disinformation in stride.

Meanwhile, Twitter is takings steps to protect these teens. The company moved quickly to verify some students’ accounts and says it is “actively working on” addressing reports of harassment and abuse.

Twitter is also using its anti-spam tools “to weed out malicious automation” targeting Parkland survivors and the conversation they’ve started.

Directly after the shooting, bots and users linked to the Russian influence campaign began pushing both sides of the gun control debate.

These announcements from Twitter come in the midst of an effort to purge bots from the site that also affected some real people. Many of the users locked out of their accounts were conservative voices on the platform, leading to calls of political bias, which the company denounced.

Users have called for Twitter to take action to combat abuse and harassment repeatedly, and the demands for better management of the platform and the community intensified after the 2016 U.S. presidential election.