Twitter rolls out new security features to prevent Election Day chaos

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Twitter will start prompting high-profile political accounts to take heightened security measures ahead of the 2020 US election, the company announced Thursday.

In a blog post, Twitter said that administration officials, members of Congress, political campaigns, major news outlets, political journalists, and other government officials will be prompted to take enhanced security measures ahead of the election. Over the next few days, Twitter will be automatically turning on password reset protection for these accounts while recommending that these high-profile users turn on two-factor authentication. These accounts will also be required to use strong passwords.

“Voters, political candidates, elected officials and journalists rely on Twitter every day to share and find reliable news and information about the election, and we take our responsibility to them seriously,” Twitter wrote in a blog post Thursday. “As we learn from the experience of past security incidents and implement changes, we’re also focused on keeping high-profile accounts on Twitter safe and secure during the 2020 US election.”

These security prompts will be delivered via an in-app notification for specific election-related users. Twitter says that it will continue to notify these accounts of additional measures they can take to protect their accounts as the 2020 election nears. The company also says that it will implement internal security safeguards for these accounts, including new methods of response to suspicious activity and expedited account recovery if takeovers occur.

For months, election experts have warned that political actors could wrongly declare election results before they are finalized, with chaotic and potentially untrustworthy claims spreading through media outlets and social networks. Facebook and Twitter have both changed their rules to either label or remove posts that prematurely declare results or make allegations of election rigging. If major accounts were hacked to spread misinformation, it could heighten the chaos significantly.

The new focus on prominent accounts follows one of the largest breaches Twitter has suffered in its history. In July, accounts belonging to political figures like President Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Michael Bloomberg were compromised by hackers for use in a massive bitcoin scam. Responding to the breach, Twitter blocked all new tweets from every verified user. Thursday’s announcement appears to be an effort to prevent these kinds of breaches in the future as the election nears.

In the lead-up to the election, Twitter has reworked its content policies and rolled out new features to help users find reputable information. On Tuesday, Twitter launched its election hub featuring voting information in both English and Spanish. The hub appears above the Explore tab for US users and will include Twitter moments from “reputable news outlets” and other content like debate live streams.

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