Twitter announced on Tuesday it has banned 373 accounts linked to the governments of Russia, Iran, and Armenia for allegedly violating various policies and “undermining faith in the NATO alliance and its stability.”
Twitter said the banned accounts were part of four organized “state-linked information operations,” one of which was already known to be operating from Iran. Almost two thirds of the banned accounts were Iranian. Twitter said 130 of them were removed “based on intel provided by the FBI” concerning their attempts to “disrupt the public conversation during the first 2020 U.S. presidential debate.”
Two of the networks uncovered by Twitter were linked to the Russian state. Of these fake accounts, 69 “can be reliably tied to Russian state actors” and were involved in operations to boost “narratives that were aligned with the Russian government” and to undermine “faith in the NATO alliance and its stability.”
Another 31 accounts linked to previously identified Russian propaganda operations targeting the U.S. and European Union were removed.
Twitter also identified 35 accounts linked to the government of Armenia “created in order to advance narratives that were targeting Azerbaijan and were geostrategically favorable to the Armenian government.”
“In some cases, the fake accounts purported to represent government and political figures in Azerbaijan, as well as news entities claiming to operate in Azerbaijan. The accounts engaged in spammy activity to gain followers and further amplify this narrative,” Twitter added.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova (pictured) told Russia’s state-run Tass news agency on Tuesday that her office would “review” Twitter’s decision and “give an expert opinion” on the matter.
Zakharova claimed “millions of users” could fall under the definition of illegitimate accounts employed by Twitter, adding a potshot at jailed Russian dissident Alexei Navalny and his supporters for their supposedly comparable influence operations.
“Even the resources of Navalny’s supporters – they certainly influence the United States and the European Union, given the speed at which anti-Russian sanctions are stamped there at the request of ‘agents of influence,’” Zaharova said.