Twitter disclosed that it has suspended accounts for violations of its platform management policies. Those accounts include a “state-backed information operation focused on the situation on Hong Kong”, as well as spam accounts.
This disclosure consists of 936 accounts originating from within the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Overall, these accounts were deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground. Based on our intensive investigations, we have reliable evidence to support that this is a coordinated state-backed operation. Specifically, we identified large clusters of accounts behaving in a coordinated manner to amplify messages related to the Hong Kong protest.
Twitter stated that Twitter is blocked in PRC, and many of the accounts that were suspended were using VPNs. Some accounts access Twitter from specific unlocked iP addresses that originated in mainland China. The accounts Twitter shared today “represent the most active portions of this campaign; a larger, spammy network of approximately 200,000 accounts – many created following initial suspensions – were proactively suspended before they were substantially active on the service.”
Some of the violations that resulted in a ban include:
- Coordinated activity
- Fake accounts
- Attributed activity
- Ban evasion
Twitter is adding archives containing complete Tweet and user information for the 936 accounts they have disclosed to their archive of information operations. The archive is the largest of its kind in the industry.
It bothers me that Twitter is so easy to use by those who wish to manipulate public opinion regarding significant politically-related matters. Doing so seems very mean-spirited and deceitful. There is something about Twitter that attracts nefarious people to use it in ways that were not intended (or allowed).