Twitter has removed more than 170,000 accounts that it linked to a Chinese propaganda campaign.
The social-media giant said the network used “a range of manipulative and coordinated activities” to spread messages supportive of the Chinese Communist Party.
Twitter found 23,750 “highly engaged” accounts and roughly 150,000 “amplifier” accounts that were designed to boost their posts, the company said Friday. But most of them had few followers and low engagement on their tweets, according to Twitter.
“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 said in a blog post.
Twitter said it traced the accounts to China using “technical links” similar to those associated with another network of 936 Chinese accounts that targeted Hong Kong protesters last year.
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement has played a role in rising tensions between the US and China. The Trump administration recently moved to end Hong Kong’s special status after Beijing approved new national security restrictions for the territory.
The San Francisco-based company also removed more than 7,300 accounts linked to Turkey that showed strong support for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Another 1,152 accounts were taken down because Twitter tied them to a Russian state-backed political propaganda outlet, the company said.
Twitter announced the crackdown about two weeks after it placed fact-checking notices on President Trump’s tweets, which led the president to target social media companies with an executive order. Twitter also flagged a Chinese government spokesman’s factually dubious tweets about the coronavirus.