Twitter dismantles China-backed coronavirus 'influence operation'closeVideo
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Twitter announced Thursday it has removed more than 170,000 Beijing-backed accounts that had spread misinformation about the coronavirus that was favorable to China.
The company said it had removed some 23,750 active accounts and 150,000 “amplifier” accounts.
FILE: The Twitter app icon on a mobile phone in Philadelphia. (AP)
With the help of researchers who analyzed these accounts, Twitter determined the network was an “echo chamber of fake accounts,” Reuters reported.
Two smaller state-backed operations linked to Russia and Turkey were also removed, Twitter said.
The network of accounts had links to another state-backed operation that Twitter took down last year.
The new accounts, like the old operation, pushed misleading narratives about the U.S. and pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, Reuters reported.
Renee DiResta of the Stanford Internet Observatory said the network’s activity ramped up in late January as the coronavirus began spreading outside China’s borders.
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The accounts heaped praise on China’s handling of the pandemic while antagonizing the United States and Hong Kong activists, DiResta said.
Last month, the U.S. State Department said it had found a Beijing-linked network of inauthentic Twitter accounts spreading misinformation about the coronavirus.
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A company spokesman said Thursday that the network it took down was a different one than the U.S. State Department had identified.