Social media giant Twitter on Thursday released a new archive of state-backed propaganda from accounts it has stopped based in Iran, Russia, Spain, and Venezuela. The US platform declared it had taken the material off its network, but would make it available to analysts and investigators studying online threats.
Tech firms have been accused of allowing political propagandists to utilize social media to hijack elections, poison online debate and smear their opponents. But Twitter, in a blog post by the head of site integrity Yoel Roth, declared “transparency is core to our mission” and vowed to fight “misleading, deceptive, and spammy behaviour”. Thursday’s release was the firm’s 3rd such archive, representing a lot more than thirty million tweets and a terabyte of media information from just under 5, 000 suspected accounts.
Twitter has removed 4, 779 accounts it believes “are associated with — or directly backed by — the Iranian government”. Most of these were found to be spreading news stories angled to support Iranian geopolitical interests or to be fake user profiles made to change online discussion. A smaller sub-group, originating in Iran, exclusively “engaged with conversations related to Israel”. Twitter has earlier focused alleged Russian bots, and this archive contains 4 more accounts that the firm believes are associated with the Internet Research Agency ( IRA).
This St Petersburg-based “troll factory” has been accused of working with Russian intelligence to influence Western votes, notably US President Donald Trump’s election campaign. Investigations into the Russian organization also led Twitter’s security group to 33 a lot more accounts linked to an earlier known group of 764 Venezuelan fake customers. “Our further analysis suggests that they were operated by a commercial entity originating in Venezuela,” the post declared. And in Spain, Twitter has taken down 130 allegedly fake accounts apparently set up to push the views of Catalan separatists.