We’re ramping up efforts to protect the Medium community from spam and fraud

Protecting Medium’s mission and authentic writers means doing more to protect quality

Buster Benson
The Medium Blog


Green and black header image with large white text saying “Spam + Fraud”.

We know you’ve seen it: spammy comments that say nothing of value. Generic posts with head-scratching amounts of engagement. AI-generated stories behind the paywall. Just wanna let you know, we’ve also seen it—and we are fighting to get it off of Medium.

As part of these recent efforts to reduce fraud across the site, last month our Trust and Safety team helped identify and review accounts that were correlated with fraudulent activity. After spending several weeks adjusting the queries and individually reviewing accounts, we suspended about 1.7% of active Partner Program writer accounts that had been flagged to be likely participating in some form of fraudulent activity.

Nearly all of these suspensions were uncontested, but we did hear from a small percentage of accounts that felt they’d been incorrectly suspended. In some cases, we reinstated accounts while providing additional clarity about what we are trying to do.

I’ve reached out to many of these people over the last few weeks and we have learned a lot. Thank you to everyone who has given their time and shared their circumstances with us—your feedback has helped us refine our efforts.

The vast majority of participants in our Partner Program engage in good faith—but those who don’t can have an outsized impact on the program. We take actions like suspension very seriously and know that it’s shocking to have your account suspended suddenly, and so I wanted to share some details about what happened, why, and how we can collaborate on protecting the Medium platform going forward.

Why this is happening

As a membership-supported platform, our job is to make sure our readers are shown the best quality writing possible—and as my colleague Terrie wrote earlier this week, it’s a huge challenge. Our Partner Program goal here is to do everything we can to make sure those membership dollars are going to writers who write on Medium because they, like us, believe in the power of writing to deepen our shared understanding of the world.

Medium will always be an open platform that invites all kinds of writing to be shared for free (within the constraints of our Terms of Service and Rules), but readers, members, and publication editors have all told us loud and clear that they expect us to do everything we can to keep spam and fraud off the site.

Medium is simply not a welcome place for malicious and disingenuous content and behavior, and we certainly won’t financially encourage it.

So, to state it plainly: we will revoke Partner Program enrollment from writers that publish AI-generated stories or other low-quality content that demonstrates clear misalignment with our mission. And we’re proud to protect the community from this kind of behavior.

We have no intention of permanently suspending accounts that engage in honest and authentic usage of Medium, and we will go out of our way to reinstate any accounts that were incorrectly flagged.

This is good for readers, but it’s also good for writers: by suspending these fraudulent accounts, we are redistributing those funds back to writers. We will continue to do this, and to adapt our program as we need to, in months ahead.

A peek into how we are thinking about the problem

There have been many fair requests for clarification about what kinds of behavior will and will not get you removed from the Partner Program and/or suspended entirely.

While we can’t always go into full detail publicly about which rules specific accounts have breached (this gives fraudulent accounts valuable information about how they can adapt to become less detectable in the future), here are the primary scenarios that will lead to disciplinary action:

Spam, impersonation, plagiarism, and phishing: When an account publishes stories that promote an action that leads to deception or harm, this will lead to immediate platform suspension.

Use of multiple membership accounts to falsely inflate earnings. This too will lead to platform suspension. While multiple memberships are allowed on Medium, using multiple accounts to engage with your own stories is not.

AI-generated stories: When the content and structure of stories and/or replies is plausibly determined to be generated by AI, accounts will be removed from the Partner Program permanently or temporarily. This is determined on a case-by-case basis. AI-generated content is permissible in non-paywalled stories if it is disclosed—but it is no longer allowed in the Partner Program, even with disclosure.

As Terrie shared a couple days ago, AI-generation detection isn’t a perfect science at this time, so we will be leaning on the judgment of publication editors, curators, and the Medium community to ensure that stories that read like AI-generated stories simply will not be distributed or be able to earn on Medium—there are plenty of other places on the internet for that.

Coordinated inauthentic engagement: This is one of the more difficult actions to define, so we are extra careful in how we approach it. On one hand, we encourage all writers to share their stories with communities on and off Medium—we want writers to reach their audience and find new readers.

However! We see paywalled stories with a majority of engagement from a repeat set of members who heavily engage in consistently low-value/generic ways over an extended period of time. Seemingly inauthentic activity like that could get you flagged by the systems meant to catch automated fraudulent actors. And if flagged, your enrollment in the Partner Program could be suspended temporarily or permanently, determined on a case-by-case review.

If you were suspended this month or are worried about the possibility of getting suspended in the coming months, our recommendation to you is this: yes, keep sharing your writing with your communities on and off Medium, but…

Let your words speak for themselves.

We strongly recommend that communities, publications, and writers focus much less on reciprocal engagement as a strategy for positive feedback and earnings, and focus much more on the craft of writing, expressing yourself, contributing wisdom to the dialogue, providing insightful and constructive commentary, and connecting to others through the power of your words!

What’s next?

Our Partner Program is designed to support an ecosystem on Medium that rewards authentic human expression and authentic human interaction—and we invite you to help us do that. We will continue to find ways to address the many different kinds of problems that a successful and growing platform like Medium attracts.

We encourage you to engage in lively comment debates, write about what gets you excited, and keep in mind what our readers, members, publications, nominators and fellow writers want to read. When you do that, and as the wonderful human/robot hybrid that is Medium continues to learn and improve month after month and year after year, everything will be increasingly rewarding for everyone involved.



Buster Benson
The Medium Blog

Product at @Medium. Author of “Why Are We Yelling? The Art of Productive Disagreement”. Also: busterbenson.com, new.750words.com, and threads.net/@bustrbensn