Twitter removes nearly 3,500 ‘state-backed’ propaganda accounts

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Most of the accounts were linked to the Chinese Communist Party’s narrative on its dealings with the Uighurs in Xinjiang.

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Twitter says it has removed 3,465 accounts operating as “state-backed information operations” linked to six countries: China, Mexico, Russia, Tanzania, Uganda and Venezuela.

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The social media giant said in a statement published on Thursday that most of the erased profiles – 2,048 – are “an extension of Chinese Communist Party statements” related to the treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang province. The other 112 deleted accounts were linked to “Changyu Culture”, a private company backed by the Xinjiang regional government.

China has long been accused of human rights abuses against the largely Muslim ethnic group, with activists and UN rights experts saying at least one million Uighurs are being detained in camps in the far western region. Used to be. Activists and some Western politicians accused China of using torture, forced labor and sterilization.

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China denies human rights abuses in Xinjiang and says its camps need to “fight extremism” and provide vocational training.

In Uganda, Twitter removed a network of 418 accounts “engaged in coordinated unsubstantiated activity” in support of President Yoweri Museveni and his party, the national resistance movement.

About 270 accounts were also shut down in Tanzania after bad faith reports were filed on Twitter targeting members and supporters of civil rights group Phichua Tanzania.

Twitter also shut down 16 accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency, a Russian company dubbed a “troll farm” by critics that runs a pro-government online influence campaign.

“The operation relied on a mix of unauthenticated and anecdotal accounts to present a pro-Russian viewpoint in the Central African political discourse,” Twitter said.

Russia has wielded growing influence in the Central African Republic since 2018 when it sent a large contingent of “trainers” to train the military.

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

The banned accounts also include 276 that share pro-government content in Mexico, and “277 Venezuelan accounts that amplify accounts, hashtags and topics in support of the government and its official narratives”.

Twitter’s move comes after Facebook’s parent company Meta said it had shut down more than 500 accounts that were part of a China-linked influence campaign related to COVID-19. The accounts fueled the claims of a bogus 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 often uses both American social networks to promote its position on the international stage.

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