More than 170,000 twitter accounts that were allegedly linked to an operation to spread pro-China messages have been removed by Twitter, the social micro blogging site has been has said.
Making the announcement, the social media platform said that some of the accounts were engaged in posting about the coronavirus outbreak.
“A core network” of 23,750 highly active accounts had been deleted together with another 150,000 accounts that acted as “amplifier accounts” to the posts created by the other accounts, the company said.
More than a thousand Russia-based misinformation accounts have also been shut down, Twitter also revealed.
Last year, another Chinese state-backed operation was broken up by Twitter alongside Facebook and YouTube and the latest Chinese network that has been identified, based in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), had its links to the that earlier operation, Twitter said.
Twitter also said that the removed accounts were also pushing out messages related to the current political situation in Hong Kong.
“While this network is new, the technical links we used to identify the activity and attribute it to the PRC remain consistent with activity we initially identified and disclosed in August 2019,” Twitter said in its company blog, which was also tweeted by the firm’s founder Jack Dorsey.
It had been “thoroughly studying and investigating past coordinated information operations from the PRC,” the United States based messaging platform added.
The company said while its main focus was on a core group of 23,750, it also looked into eh activities of 150,000 other accounts that were identified to be engaged in helping to boost he messages posted by the core accounts.
The company managed to make an early catch of two interconnected sets of accounts which typically had very few followers and extremely low levels of engagement, Twitter said.
“In general, this entire network was involved in a range of manipulative and coordinated activities. They were 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,” the blog said.
A network of accounts were also discovered that were linked to a media website it found to be “engaging in state-backed political propaganda within Russia”, Twitter also said. The company has now suspended this network of accounts, totalling 1,152.
“Activities included promoting the United Russia party and attacking political dissidents,” Twitter’s blog added.
US President Donald Trump was accused last week by Twitter of making false claims in some of his posts even though the social media platform has been criticized for not removing misinformation spreading posts about the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The company was trialling a new “read before you retweet” pop-up aimed to promote “informed discussion”, the company said earlier this week. Under The new measure will pop up messages on articles that have been shared by users but had not been opened yet by them at the time of sharing.
(Adapted from BBC.com)