İrem UZUN -TDO- Twitter announced Thursday that it had shut down more than 170.000 accounts tied to the Chinese government. Experts working with Twitter who reviewed the accounts said they pushed deceptive narratives around the Hong Kong protests, COVID-19, and other topics. The company said the accounts were "spreading geopolitical narratives favorable to the Communist Party of China" and were removed for violating its platform manipulation policies.
The company said, "a core network" of 23.750 highly active accounts had been deleted, along with another 150.000 "amplifier accounts". Twitter also revealed it has shut down more than a thousand Russia-based misinformation accounts. The firm said the Chinese network, which was based in the People's Republic of China (PRC), had links to an earlier state-backed operation it broke up alongside Facebook and YouTube last year. That operation had been pushing out messages about the 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.
Despite the removal of these accounts, the researchers found that the campaigns were persisting both on Twitter and Facebook through repurposed accounts and new ones. At the same time, Twitter also released the details of 1.152 accounts associated with promoting state-backed political propaganda from Russia, and 7.340 accounts promoting to Turkey’s AK party and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Twitter said in the future, it would provide the archive of impression counts and other relevant information to understand the impact such campaigns have, and work with academic organizations to achieve that goal.