SWITZERLAND, JUNE 12 – Social media giants, Twitter on Friday said it has removed no fewer than 170,000 accounts tied to a Beijing-backed influence operation that spread messages favourable only to the Chinese government.
By far the biggest network uncovered was linked to China, the US social media giant said, comprised of a “highly engaged core” of 23,750 accounts that was boosted by a further 150,000 “amplifier” accounts.
The Turkish network was made up of 7,340 accounts while the Russian group was 1,152 strong.
All accounts and their content have been removed from Twitter but have been placed on an archive database for researchers.
Twitter said the Chinese network was detected with the help of systems it used to previously delete state-linked accounts last August at the height of huge and often violent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
The current network had “failed to achieve considerable traction” but 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, while continuing to push deceptive narratives about the political dynamics in Hong Kong,” Twitter wrote in its analysis.