Twitter has announced that it has removed 20,000 accounts from its platform on account of having suspicions links with the Saudi, Serbian, Egyptian, Honduran and Indonesian governments. The company stated that these accounts were a part of a “targeted attempt to undermine the public conversation”
The announcement came from Twitter’s ‘Twitter Safety’ handle in a series of tweets, which started out with the tweet, “we’re updating our archive of state-backed information operations with some recent account networks we’ve removed from our service.” Then, in another tweet, the company disclosed that the accounts that it has found guilty of its policies and removed “were part of five distinct campaigns associated with five countries: Egypt, Honduras, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and Serbia.”
The most number of suspected accounts came from Serbia, where the company removed a total of 8,588 accounts, which it suspects were “working to promote Serbia’s ruling party and its leader” and were also “engaged in inauthentic coordinated activity.”
A total of 5,350 accounts, which were being operated from multiple regions like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, but were linked to Saudi Arabia; were found to be “amplifying content praising Saudi leadership, and critical of Qatar and Turkish activity in Yemen.”
In the region of Honduras, the company found multiple inauthentic accounts accessing Twitter from a single range of IP addresses and were found guilty of “heavily Retweeting the President’s account.” Thus, a total of 3,104 accounts were removed from the region.
The company also tweeted that it “removed 2,541 accounts in an Egypt-based network, known as the El Fagr network,” adding that “the media group created inauthentic accounts to amplify messaging critical of Iran, Qatar and Turkey.” The tweet continued,”Information we gained externally indicates it was taking direction from the Egyptian government,” solidifying the reason for the takedown.
Last but not least, the company took down 795 accounts from Indonesia which were found “pushing content from suspicious “news” websites and promoting pro-government content.” The decision was taken after the issue was brought to light by a “@Bellingcat report on an information operation in Indonesia targeting the West Papuan independence movement” became popular.
Yoel Roth, Twitter’s Head of Site Integrity tweeted a response following the announcement from the company. “Our work to detect and investigate state-backed information operations is always ongoing,” he said.