Twitter shuts down ‘propaganda accounts’ in six countries

SAN FRANCISCO: Twitter said on Thursday it had shut down nearly 3,500 accounts that were posting pro-government propaganda in six countries, including China and Russia.

The vast majority of the accounts were part of a network that “amplified Chinese Communist Party narratives related to the treatment of the Uyghur population in Xinjiang”, Twitter said in a statement.

China faces accusations of human rights violations against the ethnic minority in the northwestern province.

Aside from 2,048 accounts linked to the pro-Beijing campaign, Twitter also shut down 112 accounts connected to a company named Changyu Culture, linked to Xinjiang’s regional government.

The move came a day after Facebook’s parent company Meta said it had shut down more than 500 accounts that were part of a China-linked influence campaign relating to Covid-19.

The accounts promoted claims from a reportedly fictitious Swiss biologist, Wilson Edwards, that the United States was interfering in efforts to identify the origins of the coronavirus.

Both Twitter and Facebook are banned in China, but Beijing frequently uses both US social networks to promote its positions on the international stage.

Twitter also shuttered 16 accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency, a Russian company labelled a “troll farm” by critics, which runs pro-government online influence campaigns.

“The operation relied on a mix of inauthentic and real accounts to introduce a pro-Russia viewpoint into Central African political discourse,” Twitter said.

Russia has wielded increasing influence in the Central African Republic since 2018 when it sent a large contingent of “instructors” to train the army.

“We also removed a network of 50 accounts that attacked the civilian Libyan government and actors that support it, while voicing significant support for Russia’s geopolitical position in Libya and Syria,” Twitter added.–AFP

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