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Periscope’s Latest Update Cracks Down on Fake Engagement

Tech

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Fake engagement has plagued Periscope since its earliest days. The company’s latest measures aim to curb this and other kinds of spam on the platform.

Anywhere that engagement metrics like favorites, shares, and hearts can be used to signal success, ways to “fake” these numbers aren’t too far behind. Periscope is the latest platform to crack down on these faking and spamming efforts, as they revealed this week in a company Medium post.

“Periscope is a place for instant engagement and we’ve heard your concerns about spammy accounts and chats,” they said to open their statement. Indeed, Periscope users had been reporting artificial hearts, followers, viewers, and chats for quite some time. And while the company’s 2016 measures to cut down on spam viewers and commenters were successful in curbing abuse and noise on the platform, many of these “fakes” persisted—with the help of YouTube videos and other tutorials to further the practice.

But by finding ways to conflate spam engagement and fake engagement, this new policy seems to give their management efforts new heft and meaning. “Any artificial hearts, chats, followers and views violate our spam rules, and so will selling or promoting fake engagement,” the company said. To make the reporting process easier when these behaviors do arrive, “[Periscope] also focusing on proactive enforcement to help make chat quality better, and will soon launch account-level spam reporting options to let you report spammy behavior more easily.”

The last company to take such aggressive action on fake accounts was Instagram, who removed thousands of accounts en masse to contain the problem in November 2018. The move was remarkable at the time, and frankly continues to be; a number of other platforms have failed to take meaningful measures to control spam or fake accounts. As we’re learning, these efforts can contribute not only to inflated viewer numbers, but an inflated sense of influence for those accounts – contributing to misinformation or misplaced online authority. By taking on this issue so pointedly, Periscope is standing apart from other platforms that shy away from the issue…including its parent company, Twitter.

“We are always looking for ways to make Periscope feel safer and more authentic for our community,” the company’s Medium post concluded. It’ll be interesting to see how these latest measures affect the Periscope user experience, as well as if it’ll push other platforms to be similarly stringent in managing the scourge of fake accounts and engagement.

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