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Twitter is removing locked accounts from follower counts

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As part of Twitter’s ongoing mission to improve the health of the platform, the company says it is removing locked accounts from follower counts globally this week.

Twitter’s current policy is to lock an account any time it detects unusual behavior — such as tweeting a large volume of unsolicited replies or mentions, sharing misleading links, or if an account has been blocked by a large number of users it mentioned in its own tweets.

To get an account unlocked, the owner of the account must validate the account and reset their password. If an account owner does not validate their account after being locked, they will be unable to log in. As of this week, the accounts that have been locked will be removed from follower counts.

Twitter says most users will only notice a slight change in follower numbers, with most seeing as little as four or fewer followers removed from their follow list. Users and brands with larger follower counts may see a more significant drop.

“We understand this may be hard for some, but we believe accuracy and transparency make Twitter a more trusted service for public conversation,” writes Twitter’s head of legal, policy, and trust and safety teams, Vijaya Gadde on the Twitter blog.

This latest effort will only apply to follower numbers, but Twitter says it plans to cover all aspects of the platform, including Tweets, Likes and Retweets.

“This specific update is focused on followers because it is one of the most visible features on our service and often associated with account credibility,” writes Gadde, who clarifies that once an account is locked, it can no longer Tweet, Like, or ReTweet, and it is not served ads.

Twitter says this change will not impact its monthly or daily active user metric because accounts that have been locked for more than a month are not included in MAU or DAU numbers.

“While today’s change doesn’t affect MAU or DAU, some accounts we remove from the service as part of our ongoing commitment to a healthy public conversation have the potential to impact publicly reported metrics,” writes Gadde.

Twitter has made significant strides to clean up the spam and malicious activity on the the platform this year. Most recently, it launched its Ad Transparency Center, an archive of ads that have run on the platform that details like who paid for the ad, the campaign budget and targeting data. The company has also recently modified how conversations play out based on users behavior and conduct versus the content they tweet, and updated its rules around political ads.

Last month, Twitter reported it had removed 214 percent more spam accounts year-over-year, and suspended more than 142,000 apps for violated Twitter policies during Q1 of this year.

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YouTube gives more creators option to monetize channels

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YouTube is dropping the number of required subscribers for access to Channel Memberships to 50,000, a reversal from the 100,000 threshold it set in June.

Why the change? Previously called Sponsorships, YouTube’s Channel Membership program allows creators to offer $4.99-per-month subscriptions to their channels, giving paid subscribers access to account badges, emojis, members-only posts in the Community tab and exclusive content from creators. The update gives more creators who are trying to grow a loyal fan base on YouTube the opportunity to monetize their channel beyond ads.

Why you should care. The Channel Memberships offer creators a way to monetize their content beyond YouTube ads. One success story, According to YouTube, is Wintergatan, a Swedish instrumental band and designers of the Marble Machine musical instrument. The band reportedly increased revenue more than 50 percent using Channel Memberships. The creators behind the channel, which currently has more than 1 million subscribers, are also using Channel Memberships to provide perks like early access to tickets for concert tours or free tickets to long-term members.

PR Play, a channel with nearly 150,000 subscribers, is using Channel Memberships to offer premium content like driving lessons, and Tristar Gym is offering exclusive Brazilian jiu-jitsu instruction videos.

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Sharpen your digital marketing skills with an SMX East workshop

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The EU’s Competition Commissioner is investigating Amazon

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Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s competition commissioner, said on Wednesday that the oversight agency is looking into Amazon’s business practices.

Why? While acknowledging that hosting third-party merchants provided a benefit for smaller businesses and collecting data had legitimate uses such as improving customer service, she also noted that access to third-party data may give Amazon an unwarranted competitive edge. The effort is a preliminary investigation, not yet having reached the stage of a formal inquiry.

It’s about data. Speaking during a press conference regarding the Luxembourg McDonald’s State Aid case, Vestager responded to a reporter’s question about whether the commission was looking into antitrust concerns raised about Amazon’s use of data collected from merchants hosted on Amazon’s merchant platform.

“The question here is about the data, because if you as Amazon get the data from the smaller merchants that you host — which can be of course completely legitimate because you can improve your service to these smaller merchants — well, do you then also use this data to do your own calculations? What is the new big thing, what is it that people want, what kind of offers do they like to receive, what makes them buy things.”

She said the oversight agency has sent a number of questionnaires to third-party merchants that sell through Amazon to gather more information about the company’s practices.

What it means for Amazon. The inquiry comes at a crucial time as revenue from third-party selling services comprised nearly 20 percent of Amazon’s revenue in the second quarter of 2018. The company this week also launched a new “Storefronts” initiative dedicated exclusively to servicing 20,000 US small and medium-sized businesses featuring more than 1 million products.

While the EU inquiry is limited to the European Union at this point, the company has come under increasing criticism recently, having recently been called out by president Trump as being in a “very antitrust situation.”

The EU also has a history of levying huge fines against US tech giants. The most recent, in July of this year, was a $5 billion antitrust penalty against Google over Google Play and its role in the Android ecosystem.

The EU previously slapped Google with $2.7B antitrust fine for favoring its own content in search results.

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