The social media platform Twitter recently stated that it deleted more than 170,000 accounts tied to a Chinese-backed influence operation that deceptively propagate messages favourable to the Chinese government, which also include coronavirus information.
Twitter suspended a core network of 23,750 highly active accounts, along with a more extensive network of about 150,000 “amplifier” accounts used to promote the core accounts’ content.
Twitter Removes 170,000 Chinese-Backed Accounts
Twitter, accompanying with researchers who analyzed the accounts, told that the network was largely an echo chamber of fake accounts without much further traction.
Twitter, as well as other American social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, is blocked in mainland China. The platform also removed two trivial state-backed operations which it attributed to Russia and Turkey, both emphasized on domestic audiences.
The company told that the Chinese network had links to an earlier state-backed operation demolished last year by Twitter, Facebook and Google’s YouTube that had been promoting misleading narratives about the political situation in Hong Kong.
The new operation simultaneously focused majorly on Hong Kong but also promoted messages about the COVID-19 pandemic, exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui and Taiwan.
Renee DiResta, at the Stanford Internet Observatory, told that the network’s coronavirus activity increased in late January, as the pandemic spread beyond China, and peaked in March. Accounts glorified China’s response to the coronavirus, while also using the pandemic to alienate the United States and Hong Kong activists.
A Twitter spokeswoman lately told that the network it removed was not linked to what the State Department had identified. Over the past year, a huge number of Chinese diplomats and diplomatic missions set up Twitter or Facebook accounts, usually using them to tackle Beijing’s critics around the globe.