Twitter permanently removed more than 32,000 accounts linked to three distinct operations attributed to China, Russia and Turkey violating the platform’s manipulation policies, the social media company said Friday.
Earlier this week, the European Commission accused Moscow and, for the first time, Beijing of peddling disinformation.
Twitter said it removed 23,750 accounts “tweeting predominantly in Chinese languages and spreading geopolitical narratives favorable to the Communist Party of China (CCP), while continuing to push deceptive narratives about the political dynamics in Hong Kong.” About 150,000 additional accounts were designed to amplify the content of the core network.
The Chinese network was caught early and failed to gain traction, Twitter said. Albeit new, the network’s activities were modeled after similar behavior spotted by the company in August last year.
With help from researchers and “peer companies,” Twitter uncovered 1,152 accounts associated with Current Policy, a media engaging in state-backed political propaganda within Russia, that promoted Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party and attacked political opponents. The network was suspended for “cross-posting and amplifying content in an inauthentic, coordinated manner for political ends.” Twitter declined to disclose the “peer companies.”
The U.S. social media platform also removed 7,340 accounts engaging in “coordinated inauthentic activity” targeted at users in Turkey. The network was used to “amplify political narratives favorable to the AK Parti, and demonstrated strong support for President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan.”
Twitter archived the suspended accounts and shared data with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO).