The company said the accounts were “removed as they spread geopolitical narratives favorable to the Chinese Communist Party” and were removed because they violated platform manipulation policies.
The unpublishing of Twitter is the latest development in Silicon Valley’s attempt to block governments by using social media platforms to push them in favor of narratives.
Twitter is officially blocked in China, but many people in the country can access it using a VPN. According to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a group that Twitter worked with to analyze accounts was overseas Chinese “in an effort to use their capacity to expand the influence of the party-state” among the goals of the Chinese campaign. Twitter said the accounts tweeted “mainly in Chinese languages”.
Renee DiResta, a research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory and analyzing the accounts, said most of those who posted about Covid-19 during the spring were founded only in late January.
“The narratives around Covid,” SIO wrote in his analysis, praising China’s response to the virus, and tweets use the outbreak to antagonize the US and Hong Kong activists. “
Twitter said it defined 23,750 accounts, which it described as a “highly interactive core network” used to tweet content available to Beijing, and 150,000 more accounts used to upgrade content, for example, by re-tweeting content posted by basic accounts.
According to researchers at Stanford, 23,750 accounts were tweeted 348,608 times.
Twitter said many of the accounts were diagnosed early, so the number of followers and participation was low.
This is not the first action taken by Twitter. In August 2019, the company removed less than 1,000 accounts on the mainland of China, believed to be working to “intentionally and specifically attempt to cultivate political dispute in Hong Kong.”
The company on Thursday also announced that close accounts linked to Russia and Turkey.
Twitter found more than 1000 accounts promoting the ruling United Russia party.
Turkey in 7340, consisting of a network account, issued in favor of the content of the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party. Stanford researchers said the accounts tweeted 37 million times.
Tweets from many of Twitter’s closed accounts will be sent to an archive where they can be reviewed by the company.