Social Media

Twitter removes hundreds of accounts related to state-linked information operations

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on February 24, 2021

The accounts were removed for violating its platform manipulation policies

Twitter has removed 373 accounts across four networks related to independent, state-affiliated information operations that it claimed originated from Armenia, Russia and a previously disclosed network from Iran.

The microblogging platform had disclosed the information related to these accounts to its publicly available archive of Tweets and media that it claims resulted from state-linked information operations on its service.

“Once our investigations were complete, the 373 associated accounts across the four networks were permanently suspended from Twitter for violations of our platform manipulation policies,” it said.

The accounts were removed for violating its platform manipulation policies.

Twitter’s policy reads, “You may not use Twitter’s services in a manner intended to artificially amplify or suppress information or engage in behaviour that manipulates or disrupts people’s experience on Twitter.”

The social media major in October 2020 had disclosed that it had removed approximately 130 accounts originating in Iran based on information provided to the company by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The accounts were removed for “attempting to disrupt the public conversation during the first 2020 US Presidential Debate.”

“After the final investigation was complete, we have suspended a total of 238 accounts operating from Iran for various violations of our platform manipulation policies. As previously stated, the accounts had low engagement and did not make an impact on the public conversation,” Twitter said.

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It also investigated and removed 35 accounts with ties to the Government of Armenia under its platform manipulation policy.

“These accounts were created in order to advance narratives that were targeting Azerbaijan and were geostrategically favourable to the Armenian government. In some cases, the fake accounts purported to represent government and political figures in Azerbaijan, as well as news entities claiming to operate in Azerbaijan. The accounts engaged in spammy activity to gain followers and further amplify this narrative,” it said.

The social media major also cracked down on two separate networks from Russia. As part of its first investigation, it found and removed a network of 69 fake accounts that can be “reliably tied” to Russian state actors.

“A number of these accounts amplified narratives that were aligned with the Russian government, while another subset of the network focused on undermining faith in the NATO alliance and its stability,” it said.

As part of its second investigation in this region, it removed 31 accounts from two networks that showed signs of being affiliated with the Internet Research Agency (IRA) and Russian government-linked actors.

“These accounts amplified narratives that had been previously associated with the IRA and other Russian influence efforts targeting the United States and European Union,” it said.

Internet Research Agency (IRA) is an organisation close to the Russian government which was also accused of interference in the 2016 United States election.

Published on February 24, 2021

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