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Twitter removes state-linked accounts

June 12, 2020

Twitter said the accounts were part of a network used to push propaganda, attack critics of the government and spread misinformation. A majority of the accounts were linked to China.

Symbolbild Twitter Konto
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/A. Gombert

Twitter said Thursday it had removed more than 170,000 state-linked accounts used by China, Russia and Turkey. 

The US-based social media company said these accounts consisted of a network of echo chambers, used to push propaganda, spread misinformation or attack critics of the government. 

The biggest network of these accounts was linked to China, with 23,750 that were further boosted by 150,000 "amplifier" accounts. 

Read more: EU says China, Russia behind coronavirus 'disinformation campaigns'

The Turkish and Russian networks were much smaller, with 7,340 and 1,152 accounts respectively. 

The accounts and their content have been removed from Twitter, but will be archived on a database for research.

Last year, Twitter had also detected a Chinese network during pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. The social media giant said the same systems were used to detect the most recent network, although it was not as influential. Twitter's analysis said this network was involved in a "range of coordinated and manipulative activities."

Read moreA year of Hong Kong protests: Is Beijing finally regaining control?

'Deceptive narratives'

Apart from pushing Beijing's narrative on the Hong Kong protests, the accounts were also spreading misinformation about coronavirus and criticizing Taiwan.

"They were tweeting predominantly in Chinese languages and spreading geopolitical narratives favorable to the Communist Party of China, while continuing to push deceptive narratives about the political dynamics in Hong Kong," Twitter said.

Read moreWill China's new national security law for Hong Kong be the end of autonomy in the territory?

Social media giants such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook are censored in China.

Twitter said the Turkish network was discovered in early 2020, and used to boost the public image of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Russian accounts also sought to influence political opinions, promote the ruling United Russia party and attack dissidents.

tg/dr (AFP,  Reuters)

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