Twitter suspends thousands of accounts linked to state-back campaigns - mainly from Iran

Twitter removed thousands of accounts linked to coordinated, state-backed activities it believes were from the Iranian government

Twitter cracksdown on state-backed accounts. Getty 
Twitter cracksdown on state-backed accounts. Getty 

Twitter has suspended thousands of accounts engaged in state-backed influence campaigns, the majority originating in Iran, in a major crackdown.

On Thursday the social media giant revealed it had shutdown almost 5,000 accounts, 4,779 were linked to Iran.

The others originated from Russia, Spain and Venezuela.

The clampdown is part of the firms purge on those abusing its rules in its bid to stop election interference around the globe.

Last October Twitter created a digital archive containing deleted accounts that were linked to state-backed activities.

It has announced these are the latest accounts to be added to it and has also added six new datasets to the archive.

In the US lawmakers are seeking to regulate tech platforms after foreign influence campaigns were active during elections in 2016 and 2018.

Twitter’s archive aims to give researchers insight into the size, scope and method of state-backed information operations.

The new data archive includes three sets of accounts, from Iran, which Twitter said all were associated with or directly backed by the Iranian government, and some of which were involved with discussions related to Israel.

Four accounts were believed to be associated with the Internet Research Agency, the Kremlin-backed group that disrupted the 2016 US election.

Twitter also added to the archive 130 accounts associated with the Catalan independence movement in Spain and 33 accounts originating in Venezuela focused on "platform manipulation" outside of the country.

In a blog post Twitter said: "Thousands of researchers from across the globe have downloaded datasets, which contain more than 30 million Tweets and over 1 terabyte of media, using our archive to conduct their own investigations and to share their insights and independent analysis with the world.

"Today, we’re adding six additional datasets to our archive, covering coordinated, state-backed activities originating from four jurisdictions. All accounts have been removed from Twitter.

"We believe that people and organisations with the advantages of institutional power and which consciously abuse our service are not advancing healthy discourse but are actively working to undermine it. "By making this data open and accessible, we seek to empower researchers, journalists, governments, and members of the public to deepen their understanding of critical issues impacting the integrity of public conversation online, particularly around elections."

The firm has created a Site Integrity team dedicated to identifying and investigating suspected platform manipulation on Twitter, including potential state-backed activity.

Published: June 13, 2019 08:27 PM

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