Twitter has announced that it has suspended another 10,000 accounts from its platform accused of sowing political discord across the globe.
TechCrunch reports that Twitter has deleted another 10,112 accounts across six countries that the company believes spreading misinformation and encouraging political unrest in countries with sensitive political climates. Twitter removed more than 4,000 accounts in the United Arab Emirates and China, over 1,000 in Equador, and 259 in Spain.
The full data trove of accounts has been posted for researchers to go through, the entire archive is comprised of millions of tweets reaching one terabyte in size. The latest account removals mark a year of Twitter’s efforts identify and remove accounts that spread political misinformation in attempts to change public sentiment, an issue that has a wide-ranging impact past social media and can actually influence democratic processes such as election and referendum voting.
Breitbart News reported in June that Twitter was forced to apologize for suspending a number of accounts critical of the Chinese government just days ahead of the 30th anniversary of the massacre of protesters at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. The company posted a statement to the company’s Public Policy feed stating that a “number of accounts” were suspended in an attempt to remove accounts that were engaging in “platform manipulation.”
The company stated: “Some of these were involved in commentary about China. These accounts were not mass reported by the Chinese authorities – this was a routine action on our part.” The company added that while performing these actions, they can sometimes “catch false positives or we make errors.”
The company stated: “We apologize. We’re working today to ensure we overturn any errors but that we remain vigilant in enforcing our rules for those who violate them.” Twitter came under fire for its actions from a number of prominent individuals including U.S. Senator Marco Rubio who accused the company of being a Chinese government censor.
Twitter commented on the removal of 267 accounts located in the United Arab Emirates and Egypt stating: “These accounts were interconnected in their goals and tactics: a multi-faceted information operation primarily targeting Qatar, and other countries such as Iran. It also amplified messaging supportive of the Saudi government.” Another 4,258 accounts operating from the UAE posting content directed at Qatar and Yemen were also removed, with Twitter stating: “These accounts were often employing false personae and tweeting about regional issues, such as the Yemeni Civil War and the Houthi Movement.”
Six accounts linked to Saudi Arabia’s state-run media group were found to be “engaged in coordinated efforts to amplify messaging that was beneficial to the Saudi government,” according to Twitter. Twitter also removed 4,302 Chinese based accounts that were reportedly helping to “sow discord about the protest movement in Hong Kong.”