Twitter removes nearly 3,500 “state-sponsored” propaganda accounts | Social media messages
Most of the reports were related to the Chinese Communist Party’s story of its treatment of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
Twitter says it removed 3,465 accounts operated as “government-backed information operations” linked to six countries: China, Mexico, Russia, Tanzania, Uganda and Venezuela.
Most of the deleted profiles – 2,048 – “amplified Chinese Communist Party narratives” related to the treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang province, the social media giant said in a statement released Thursday. Another 112 accounts removed were linked to Changyu Culture, a private company supported by the Xinjiang regional government.
China has long been accused of human rights violations against the predominantly Muslim ethnic group. United Nations activists and human rights experts say at least one million Uyghurs are detained in camps in the remote western region. The activists and some Western politicians accuse China of torture, forced labor and sterilization.
China denies any human rights violations in Xinjiang, saying that its camps are needed to “fight extremism” and provide vocational training.
In Uganda, Twitter disconnected 418 accounts “involved in coordinated phony activities” in support of President Yoweri Museveni and his party, the National Resistance Movement.
Nearly 270 accounts were also closed in Tanzania after they were found to have filed bad faith reports on Twitter targeting members and supporters of FichuaTanzania, a civil rights group.
Twitter also shut down 16 accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency, a Russian company that has been dubbed a “troll farm” by critics and runs anti-government online influencing campaigns.
“The operation relied on a mix of bogus and real reports to bring a pro-Russian viewpoint into Central African political discourse,” Twitter said.
Russia has had increasing influence in the Central African Republic since 2018 when it dispatched a large number of “trainers” to train the army.
“We also removed a network of 50 accounts that attacked the Libyan civilian government and actors who support it, while expressing strong support for Russia’s geopolitical position in Libya and Syria,” added Twitter.
Banned accounts also include 276 that shared pro-government content in Mexico and “277 Venezuelan accounts that expanded accounts, hashtags and topics in support of the government and its official narratives”.
Twitter’s move came a day after Facebook parent company Meta said it closed more than 500 accounts that were part of a China-related campaign of influence linked to COVID-19. The reports fueled claims by the fictional Swiss biologist Wilson Edwards that the United States is meddling in efforts to identify the origins of the coronavirus.
Both Twitter and Facebook are banned in China, but Beijing often uses both US social networks to promote its positions on the international stage.