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Twitter removes thousands of propaganda campaign tweets

Twitter Inc. removed tens of thousands of accounts engaged in propaganda that were linked to Russia, China and Turkey.

Twitter logo
Twitter logo (Hindustan Times)

Twitter Inc. removed tens of thousands of accounts engaged in propaganda that were linked to Russia, China and Turkey.

In a Thursday blog post, the social media company disclosed that it had removed 32,242 accounts for violating its policy against manipulating the service. Twitter described the accounts as “state-linked information operations.”

The 23,750 accounts tied to China tweeted messages, largely in Chinese languages, that supported the government and spread “deceptive” narratives about Hong Kong’s political dynamics, according to Twitter, which said that most of the accounts were discovered before they gained much traction.

Twitter also disclosed 1,152 Russia-linked accounts that were part of a network promoting the pro-Kremlin United Russia party and attacking dissidents. The accounts were associated with a media site known as Current Policy that publishes “state-backed political propaganda within Russia,” according to Twitter. “A network of accounts related to this media operation was suspended for violations of our platform manipulation policy, specifically cross-posting and amplifying content in an inauthentic, coordinated manner for political ends.”

The final batch of 7,340 accounts primarily targeted domestic audiences in Turkey. They “demonstrated strong support” for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and amplified narratives promoting the ruling AK Party. The network, which appears to be associated with the party’s youth wing, contained several compromised Twitter accounts that were connected to organizations critical of Erdogan and the Turkish government, according to the social media company.

Information campaigns from financially motivated groups and foreign governments are common on social media like Twitter and Facebook Inc.’s network. The two companies have been fighting to identify and remove them with regularity since the 2016 U.S. presidential election, when a Russian disinformation campaign on social media sought to sow divisions in the U.S. Facebook now reports campaign removals on a monthly basis.

Written by Alyza Sebenius.