Twitter has removed tens of thousands of accounts it says were part of a misinformation network spreading Chinese government propaganda, the company announced on Thursday.
In its announcement, Twitter said that the accounts were spreading propaganda on behalf of the Communist Party of China.
Despite the volume, the core 23,750 accounts we are publishing to the archive were largely caught early and failed to achieve considerable traction on the service, typically holding low follower accounts and low engagement. Of the approximately 150,000 amplifier accounts, the majority had little to no follower counts either and were strategically designed to artificially inflate impression metrics and engage with the core accounts.
In general, this entire network was involved in a range of manipulative and coordinated activities. They were Tweeting predominantly in Chinese languages and spreading geopolitical narratives favorable to the Communist Party of China (CCP), while continuing to push deceptive narratives about the political dynamics in Hong Kong.
This comes after Twitter faced criticism from President Donald Trump and others for being swifter to “fact check” Americans, including the President himself, than Chinese communist propagandists.
In March, Twitter declined to take action against Chinese officials over coronavirus-related propaganda, saying it did not violate Twitter rules.
At the time, Twitter told the Daily Beast:
Coronavirus disinformation spread by senior Chinese government officials does not violate Twitter’s terms of service, a spokesperson for the company told The Daily Beast on Monday.
The spokesperson pointed to language on its website, which gives wide latitude to statements from government officials. “Presently,” the company says, “direct interactions with fellow public figures, comments on political issues of the day, or foreign policy saber-rattling on economic or military issues are generally not in violation of the Twitter Rules.”
On the same day, Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey urging his company to take action against Chinese propaganda on the platform.
Now it seems Twitter is finally coming down hard on Chinese propaganda networks. “Every account and piece of content associated with these operations has been permanently removed from the service,” said Twitter in its official post.
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Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.