Twitter Shuts Down 5000 State-Sponsored Accounts

Twitter has taken down nearly 5000 fake accounts, most of them apparently backed by the Iranian state, in a bid to clean the platform of government-sponsored attempts to spread propaganda.

The social network claimed in a post last week that it had closed 4779 accounts linked to Tehran, 1666 of which tweeted nearly two million times, with content “that benefited the diplomatic and geostrategic views of the Iranian state.”

Another subset of 248 accounts were engaged with discussions related to Israel, while 2865 “employed a range of false personas to target conversations about political and social issues in Iran and globally.”

Four accounts were lined to the infamous Internet Research Agency (IRA), the Kremlin-linked organization responsible for a mass disinformation campaign on social media ahead of the 2016 US Presidential election.

Also removed by Twitter during this cull were 130 fake accounts linked to organizations including Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, which spread content designed to “inorganically influence the conversation” about Catalan independence.

Twitter closed down a further 33 accounts run by a “commercial entity” operating in Venezuela “that were engaging in platform manipulation targeted outside of the country.”

“Our Site Integrity team is dedicated to identifying and investigating suspected platform manipulation on Twitter, including potential state-backed activity. In partnership with teams across the company, we employ a range of open-source and proprietary signals and tools to identify when attempted coordinated manipulation may be taking place, as well as the actors responsible for it,” wrote Twitter head of site integrity, Yoel Roth.

“We also partner closely with governments, law enforcement, and our peer companies to improve our understanding of the actors involved in information operations and develop a holistic strategy for addressing them.”

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