Coronavirus: Twitter removes more than 170,000 pro-China accounts

Twitter logo seen on a smartphone with a computer model of the coronavirus in the background.

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Twitter has removed over 170,000 accounts which he said were linked to an operation to spread pro-China messages.

Some of these posts related to the coronavirus epidemic, the social media platform announced.

The company said that a “main network” of 23,750 highly active accounts has been eliminated, along with another 150,000 “amplifier accounts”.

Twitter also revealed that it has closed more than a thousand Russia-based disinformation accounts.

The company said the Chinese network, which was based in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), had links to a previous state-backed operation that broke up along with Facebook and YouTube last year.

That operation had pushed out messages about the political situation in Hong Kong.

“While this network is new, the technical links we used to identify the business and attribute it to the PRC remain consistent with the business that we initially identified and disclosed in August 2019,” said Twitter in his corporate blog, which is founder Jack Dorsey was also tweeted by the company.

The United States-based messaging platform added that it was “studying and thoroughly studying the coordinated information operations that went through the PRC.”

While the 23,750 accounts were the center of attention, 150,000 accounts were identified to help boost online messaging.

Twitter said the two groups of interconnected accounts were caught early and generally had very few followers with low engagement levels.

“In general, this entire network was involved in a series of manipulative and coordinated activities. They were mainly tweeting in Chinese languages ​​and spreading geopolitical narratives favorable to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), while continuing to push deceptive narratives about political dynamics in Hong Kong. “said the blog.

Twitter also claimed to have discovered a network of accounts linked to a media website that it discovered “engaging in state-sponsored political propaganda in Russia.” This network of accounts, for a total of 1,152, has now been suspended. “Activities included promoting the United Russia party and attacking political dissidents,” added the Twitter blog.

Fight against disinformation

Last week, Twitter accused U.S. President Donald Trump of making false statements in some of his posts, although the platform was focused on not removing coronavirus misinformation.

Earlier this week, the company said it was experimenting with a new “read before retweet” pop-up to promote an “informed discussion”.

The message will appear on the articles that users share and have not yet opened on the site.

Twitter’s high profile CEO Dorsey recently made headlines promising money for anti-coronavirus efforts and racial equality organizations.

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