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Twitter removes thousands of platform management accounts: NPR



In 2018, Twitter released an archive of thousands of accounts that the platform determined was involved in potentially state-supported information campaigns. Since then, it has continued to announce its efforts to delete accounts that spread disinformation.

Denis Charlet / AFP / Getty Images


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Denis Charlet / AFP / Getty Images

In 2018, Twitter released an archive of thousands of accounts that the platform determined were involved in potentially state-supported information campaigns. Since then, it has continued to announce its efforts to delete accounts that spread disinformation.

Denis Charlet / AFP / Getty Images

Twitter permanently closed thousands of accounts in its ongoing work to combat the spread of disinformation and political disagreement on its platform, the company announced Friday.

The accounts originate in six different countries. And they included the Twitter account used by Saud al-Qahtani, a former Saudi Arabian Crown Prince adviser and suspected of being involved in the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

It's all part of Twitter's seemingly endless task of fighting disinformation.

Twitter accounts came from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Ecuador and China, according to Twitter's blog post . Groups of suspended accounts were involved in various information campaigns, using tactics such as spreading content through fake accounts and spam through retweets.

Accounts were suspended for violating Twitter's Platform Manipulation Policy, which Twitter defines as large-scale aggressive or fraudulent activity that misleads or disrupts people's social media activity.

Twitter has suspended or removed accounts associated with this type of activity during the year. In August, the company canceled about 200,000 accounts it reportedly used to discredit protocratic protests in Hong Kong.

Tech companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Google have been fighting disinformation campaigns for a few years as a response criticism after reports that foreign governments are using their platforms for their own agendas.

So far, business progress has been slow, said Nina Jankowicz, a global colleague at the Wilson Center & # 39; s Kennan Institute in Washington DC

She said turning off disinformation campaigns will take both technology-based solutions and educate people through digital literacy.

"It doesn't matter how many of these accounts we delete, they will just continue to crop," Jankowicz said.

Twitter doesn't just shut down or delete accounts. The company also placed many of them in an archive of millions of tweets, the platform identified as part of "state-sponsored information operations." The idea is to house all disinformation in one place for research purposes.

Twitter released this information is a step towards self-policy and openness. But Jankowicz said the move only gives a glimpse of what's out there. She said researchers estimate the percentage of fake accounts on Twitter and Facebook accounts is much higher than what social media platforms say.

"Access to data is the mainstay of everything in understanding how social media really affects our day to day lives," she said.


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