Twitter Shutters 130 Iranian Accounts Trying to Disrupt Presidential Debate

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Twitter has shut down over 100 fake Iranian accounts it said were focused on “disrupting” online chatter about the first Presidential debate on Tuesday night.

In a series of tweets, the social media site claimed it was tipped off by the FBI about the 130 likely state-backed accounts.

“We identified these accounts quickly, removed them from Twitter, and shared full details with our peers, as standard. They had very low engagement and did not make an impact on the public conversation. Our capacity and speed continue to grow, and we'll remain vigilant” it continued.

“As standard, the accounts and their content will be published in full once our investigation is complete. We’re providing this notice to keep people updated in real time about our actions. We wish to thank the FBI for their assistance.”

Ironically, the accounts themselves didn’t need to do much to disrupt what was already a chaotic spectacle. The debate itself has been widely criticized as the worst in living memory, thanks in a large part to near-continuous hectoring and interruptions from the President himself.

This is by no means the first time Twitter has been forced to take action to suspend coordinated activity from accounts originating in Iran. In June last year it took down nearly 5000 state-backed accounts, for example.

The social network has also been stepping up its policing of content ahead of the US elections in November, mindful of the potential backlash it faces if the platform is used to spread disinformation or give one side an unfair advantage.

Last month it announced new measures designed to improve the security of accounts belonging to lawmakers, candidates and others.

It has also come in for criticism from Trump himself after the President tweeted several times to falsely claim mail voting would be “substantially fraudulent," leading  Twitter to place warning labels on his content.

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