Twitter Removes Accounts Linked To Iran, Russia

A 3D-printed logo for Twitter is seen in this illustrative

A 3D-printed logo for Twitter is seen in this illustrative

Thirty-three accounts originating in Venezuela that were engaging in "platform manipulation" were also removed, the social-media company said.

Twitter Inc on Thursday said it removed thousands of accounts linked to coordinated, state-backed activities it believes were from the Iranian government and archived them to its public database launched previous year.

The accounts and their tweets were added to a public database that Twitter launched previous year to track its battle against government-linked misinformation. Twitter said the removals are meant to prevent election interference while preserving valid political speech.

"By making this data open and accessible, we seek to empower researchers, journalists, governments, and members of the public to deepen their understanding of critical issues impacting the integrity of public conversation online, particularly around elections", Twitter said.

Twitter launched the database in October.

More than 1,600 removed accounts sent out almost 2m tweets sharing "global news content, often with an angle that benefited the diplomatic and geostrategic views of the Iranian state", the report said.

Another 248 accounts allegedly originating from Iran were removed from the platform because they "were more directly engaged with discussions related to Israel specifically".

Twitter has previously targeted alleged Russian bots and this archive contains four more accounts that the firm believes are associated with the Internet Research Agency (IRA).

The St. Petersburg-based "troll farm" has been accused by US intelligence agencies of working with Russian intelligence to sow discord and spread misinformation in the run-up to the 2016 USA presidential election.

Thursday's release was the firm's third such archive, representing more than 30 million tweets and a terabyte of media data from just under 5,000 suspected accounts.

"We believe the public and research community are better informed by transparency", Roth said.

On Friday, EU justice commissioner Vera Jourova and security commissioner Julian King are to brief reporters on European efforts to fight political disinformation.

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