In a recent blog post, Twitter announced that it had shut down more than 170,000 accounts tied to the Chinese government. These accounts were reportedly spreading deceptive information related to the ongoing global pandemic, political dynamics in Hong Kong, and a couple of other issues. Twitter wrote that the accounts were “spreading geopolitical narratives favorable to the Communist Party of China” and were removed for violating its platform manipulation policies.
The blog details that 23,570 of these accounts were responsible for developing what is being described as the ‘Core Network’ while around 150,000 accounts were involved in amplifying the messages from the core accounts.
Although Twitter is officially blocked in China, many users are able to access the platform using VPNs. It highly likely these accounts were doing the same. According to the blog, this network of 170,000 accounts was predominantly tweeting in Chinese, pushing deceptive narratives.
The accounts were later analyzed by the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO). The network of accounts was operating since late January this year with peak activity in late March.
The tweets primarily appreciated China’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. Moreover, every account had less than 10 followers with no information in the account bio. According to the SIO each account had tweeted at least 350,000 times before being shut down.
Other than this, the social media platform also shut down a couple of accounts linked to Russia and Turkey. However, the number of accounts was far less when compared to China.
To talk about the issue, Twitter will host a conference later this summer to “bring experts, industry, and government together to discuss opportunities for further collaboration.” This is much needed since misleading information regarding the ongoing pandemic and other political issues have created a rift throughout the social media.