Twitter removes over 30,000 “state-linked” accounts from China, Turkey and Russia

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on June 12, 2020 Published on June 12, 2020

Twitter on Friday said that it had removed thousands of state-linked accounts that were meant to spread misinformation and propaganda on the platform.

“Today we are disclosing 32,242 accounts to our archive of state-linked information operations — the only one of its kind in the industry. The account sets we’re publishing to the archive today include three distinct operations that we have attributed to the People's Republic of China (PRC), Russia and Turkey respectively,” Twitter said. “Every account and piece of content associated with these operations has been permanently removed from the service,” it added.

These accounts include 23,750 accounts from China, 7,340 accounts from Turkey and 1,152 accounts from Russia.

The microblogging platform has also discovered 1,50,000 accounts from China that were meant to boost misinformation and propaganda operations. Twitter has dubbed these accounts as “amplifier accounts.”

Overall, the accounts discovered from the People’s Republic of China had been tweeting predominantly in Chinese and had been spreading false narratives in favour of the Communist Party of China (CCP) and the overall political dynamics in Hong Kong.

According to a New York Times report, these accounts had also been spreading misinformation related to the country’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

As for Russia, the accounts had been suspended for violating Twitter’s manipulation policies and for cross-posting false content for political gains in an inauthentic manner. “Activities included promoting the United Russia party and attacking political dissidents,” Twitter said.

For accounts in Turkey, Twitter said: “Based on our analysis of the network’s technical indicators and account behaviors, the collection of fake and compromised accounts was being used to amplify political narratives favourable to the AK Parti, and demonstrated strong support for President Erdogan.”

According to research, the network of accounts found in the country is likely to be associated with the youth wing of the party. The broader network of these accounts was also used for activities such as cryptocurrency scams.

The social media platform will offer more clarity in terms of its public archive moving forward. It is also going to host an event with industry experts this summer in order to discuss future possibilities for collaboration in this area, it said.

This particular research was in collaboration with two research partners- the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO).

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Published on June 12, 2020
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