Twitter Removed Nearly 3,500 Propaganda Accounts From Six Countries


Twitter is not as popular as Instagram or WhatsApp.

It isn't as large as Meta (previously known as Facebook), or as powerful as Google. It may not have the capacity to change the trends and create memes as often as TikTok. But Twitter is the megaphone of the internet, considering that there are lots of influential people and politicians who actively use the microblogging platform to voice their thoughts.

This happens because Twitter has the capacity to amplify the voices of those leaders.

Since then, Twitter has become the source of numerous fake news.

And in an attempt to curb the amount of fakery swirling inside its platform, Twitter announced that it has removed a total of 3,465 accounts operating as "state-backed information operations" linked to China, Mexico, Russia, Tanzania, Uganda and Venezuela.

Most of the accounts, or 2,048 of them to be exact, were amplifying "Chinese Communist Party narratives” related to the treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang province

Twitter office in San Francisco
The Twitter sign in front of Twitter's headquarters in San Francisco, California.

Coming second, is accounts coming from Uganda. Twitter said that it removed a network of 418 accounts “engaged in coordinated inauthentic activity” in support of President Yoweri Museveni and his party, the National Resistance Movement.

The banned accounts also include 277 accounts from Venezuela that amplified hashtags and topics in support of the government and its official narratives, and 276 accounts from Mexico that shared pro-government contents.

Next, is Twitter in shutting down nearly 270 accounts linked to Tanzania, after the company found a huge number of bad faith reports targeting members and supporters of FichuaTanzania, a civil rights group.

Another 112 removed accounts were connected to “Changyu Culture”, a private company backed by the Xinjiang regional government.

Twitter also removed a network of 50 accounts that attacked the civilian Libyan government and those that support it, while voicing significant support for Russia’s geopolitical position in Libya and Syria.

Twitter has also removed 16 accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency, a Russian company labelled a “troll farm” by critics, which runs pro-government online influence campaigns.

"Every account and piece of content associated with these operations has been permanently removed from the service," Twitter said.

“In most instances, accounts were suspended for various violations of our platform manipulation and spam policies,” Twitter added.

Western countries that are led by the influence of the U.S., have long been in an information war with China.

This is because China is considered the most powerful country in Asia, and also the most populous. China is also known for its military spending and vast physical expanse, as well as its advancements in technology and internet, among many others.

And during the war the two sides have been involved, China has been accused for human rights abuses against Uighurs, the ethnic group that is largely Muslims.

Activists and United Nations rights experts said that at least one million Uighurs are being detained in camps in a remote region in China, with many of the activists accusing China for using torture, forced labor and sterilizations.

While China has been denying any human rights abuses in Xinjiang for more than a few times, by saying that the camps are needed to “fight extremism” and provide vocational training, the West cannot confirm that the statement is true.

And in the campaign on Twitter, the malicious operations used photos and images to spread national propaganda using fake testimonials and bot-powered fake Uyghur profiles.

Twitter started disclosing its efforts against state-linked manipulation campaigns since 2018, and said that is has removed more than 200 million tweets and nine terabytes of media connected to them. The company has taken action against operations originating in 17 countries.

And this takedown by Twitter, its yet another effort by the American social media companies to push back against Chinese information campaigns.

The social media platform said that details about the campaigns and associated accounts have been shared with three leading research organizations: the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), Cazadores de Fake News, and the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO).

Twitter said that the networks it removed, were found to share similar themes, in which they use potentially automated and repurposed accounts to spread fake information.

Often, the accounts are also used to spread pornography and Korean soap operas.

It is said that 97% of the identified accounts had fewer than five followers, and 73% of accounts had zero.

While 98% of tweets had no likes or retweets, the remainder were often boosted by Chinese diplomats and officials, spreading the content and giving it legitimacy.

The fake accounts were not targeting people who are skeptical of the Chinese government. Instead, they were used to give content to people who trust China, and those who area actually skeptical of the western-dominated mainstream media.

Twitter’s move came a week after Jack Dorsey's resignation from the company's CEO post, and a day after Facebook’s parent company Meta said it had shut down more than 500 accounts that were part of a China-linked influence campaign relating to COVID-19.

The accounts in question promoted claims from a fictitious Swiss biologist, Wilson Edwards, who allegedly said that the U.S. was interfering in efforts to identify the origins of the coronavirus.

While both Twitter and Facebook are banned in China, but Beijing frequently uses both U.S. social networks to promote their positions on the international stage.