Twitter Clamps Down On 170,000 Pro-China Accounts

Twitter has revealed it has shut down more than 173,000 accounts from its platform, that were tied to the Chinese government.

The Twitter accounts removed were linked to “state-linked information operations”, namely the spread of propaganda and misinformation.

Twitter of course is one of the tech firms still banned in mainland China, and the microblogging platform revealed that in addition to the blocked Chinese accounts, it had also blocked over 1,152 accounts tied to state-backed political propaganda for Russia, as well as 7,340 accounts linked to Turkey.

Chinese propaganda

But it is the Chinese accounts that by far accounted for the majority of deleted Twitter accounts.

Those accounts tweeted mostly about the political situation in Hong Kong, but also other content favourable to the Chinese government.

Of the 173,000 accounts linked to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), there was a “core network” of 23,750 highly active accounts, along with another 150,000 “amplifier accounts”, designed to boost the content of the “core network” accounts.

“In general, this entire network was involved in a range of manipulative and coordinated activities,” Twitter wrote in a blog post on the matter.

“They were Tweeting predominantly in Chinese languages and spreading geopolitical narratives favourable to the Communist Party of China (CCP), while continuing to push deceptive narratives about the political dynamics in Hong Kong,” Twitter added.

Misinformation clampdown

Twitter has become increasingly active in combating misinformation on its platforms.

Earlier this week for example it was revealed it is trialling a ‘read before you retweet’ warning, in an effort to promote ‘informed discussion’.

Twitter has also clashed with US President Donald Trump, after it placed fact-checking labels on a couple of his tweets for the first time.

In response Trump signed an executive order against social networking firms.

Twitter also last month announced it was testing new conversation settings that will allow users to limit who can reply to their tweets.

And Twitter also last month said it would be giving users a chance to rethink an offensive or hurtful reply to a tweet, by testing a prompt for users when they reply to a tweet using “harmful language.”

Toxic environment

Unfortunately all this is needed, as Twitter has a deserved reputation for its toxic environment.

Co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Twitter Jack Dorsey in April 2019, said he wanted to change the platform and move “away from outrage and mob behaviour and towards productive, healthy conversation.”

One of those measures to stop its platform being used to distort the political landscape for example, saw Twitter in November 2019 ban all political advertising worldwide.

Prior to that in October 2019 Twitter had clarified the rules for banning world leaders using the micro-blogging platform to push their views, after calls for the suspension of President Donald Trump’s Twitter account.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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