Twitter imposes new security rules for US political accounts ahead of the 2020 election

The social media company also shared more information on the policies that led to its crackdown on QAnon-related tweets.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

Twitter on Thursday announced new security measures it's implementing to protect high-profile, election-related accounts on its platform during the 2020 election season. In addition to requiring certain accounts to adhere to more stringent security standards, Twitter will also be adopting enhanced internal security safeguards, such as using more sophisticated detection and alert systems to spot suspicious account activity. 

The enhanced security measures come in the wake of a security incident in July, when a group of hackers breached Twitter's backend and tweeted a cryptocurrency scam from several high-profile accounts. The compromised accounts included several belonging to prominent US politicians like former US president Barack Obama, former US vice president and current presidential candidate Joe Biden and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Meanwhile, Twitter and other social media companies have been struggling for some time to stop the spread of misinformation on their platforms. 

Starting Thursday, select accounts will be getting an in-app notification of the new requirements. The targeted accounts will be required to use a strong password and will be strongly encouraged to enable two-factor authentication. Additionally, Twitter will enable password reset protection for these accounts by default, requiring an account to confirm its email address or phone number to initiate a password reset.

Twitter will impose these new requirements on accounts belonging to members of the US executive branch and Congress; US governors and secretaries of state; US presidential campaigns; US political parties; and US candidates running for the House, Senate, or governor. They'll also apply to major US news outlets and political journalists. 

Meanwhile, Twitter plans to improve its own internal security measures ahead of the election. It plans to adopt increased login defenses to prevent malicious account takeover attempts, as well as more sophisticated detections and alerts of suspicious activity. It's also planning for more expedited account recovery support to ensure account security issues are resolved quickly. 

Twitter on Thursday also shared more information about its Platform Manipulation and Spam Policy, which applies to groups coordinating to cause harm. In July, Twitter began removing tweets associated with QAnon conspiracies from its "Trends" section and recommendations, based on the assessment QAnon accounts were engaging in coordinated harmful activity. It also stopped highlighting QAnon tweets in conversations and Search.  Impressions on this content dropped by more than 50%, Twitter says.

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