Twitter on Friday said it has removed over 10,000 accounts in six countries that were sowing misinformation and propaganda via manipulating its platform. In October 2018, Twitter disclosed the first comprehensive archive of state-backed information operations on Twitter and after an year, it has announced the removal of thousands of politically-motivated accounts.
“We have removed a network of 273 accounts originating in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt. These accounts were interconnected in their goals and tactics: a multi-faceted information operation primarily targeting Qatar, and other countries such as Iran. It also amplified messaging supportive of the Saudi government,” Twitter said in a statement. Twitter found evidence that these accounts were created and managed by DotDev, a private technology company operating in the UAE and Egypt.
The micro-blogging platform has permanently suspended DotDev, and all accounts associated with them. “Additionally, we suspended a separate group of 4,248 accounts operating uniquely from the UAE, mainly directed at Qatar and Yemen. These accounts were often employing false personae and tweeting about regional issues, such as the Yemeni Civil War and the Houthi Movement,” Twitter informed.
The investigation also detected a small group of six accounts linked to Saudi Arabia’s state-run media apparatus which were engaged in coordinated efforts to amplify messaging that was beneficial to the Saudi government. “While active, the accounts in this set presented themselves as independent journalistic outlets while tweeting narratives favourable to the Saudi government. “Separately, we have also permanently suspended the Twitter account of Saud al-Qahtani for violations of our platform manipulation policies,” Twitter added.
In August, Twitter identified a network of more than 200,000 fake accounts based in China which were attempting to sow discord about the protest movement in Hong Kong. “Today, we are publishing additional datasets relating to 4,301 accounts which were most active in this information operation to further public awareness and understanding,” said Twitter. In Spain, Twitter removed 265 accounts as falsely boosting public sentiment online. Last October, Twitter removed some 4,500 accounts being operated from Russia.