What just happened? Twitter has removed 32,242 accounts that were discovered to be state-linked operations. The overwhelming majority of these came from China, though accounts from both Russia and Turkey were also banned.
The company writes that 23,750 accounts that were part of a “highly engaged core network” based in China have been removed. Most of these tweets were in Chinese languages, spreading Communist Party of China (CCP) propaganda and “deceptive narratives about the political dynamics in Hong Kong.”
In addition to those accounts, there were another 150,000 “amplifier” accounts used to spread the content to more users. Twitter said it didn’t remove these as they had little to no followers.
Twitter believes the deleted accounts were connected to 936 accounts banned in August 2019 for attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong. They also used amplifier accounts—around 200,000 of them.
Russia, no stranger to these sort of tactics, was linked to 1,152 banned accounts that were associated with Current Policy, a state-backed media outlet that likes to promote the United Russia party and attack political dissidents, writes Twitter. These also targeted local Russian-speaking users.
Finally, 7,340 accounts aimed at domestic users in Turkey were removed. These were used to spread messages of support for the AK Parti—it’s believed they were operated by the youth wing of the political party—while also voicing opinions favorable to President Erdogan.
"These compromised accounts [from Turkey] have been repeated targets of account hacking and takeover efforts by the state actors identified above," Twitter said. "The broader network was also used for commercial activities, such as cryptocurrency-related spam."
Twitter said it will continue to work at removing “bad faith actors” from its platform, while advancing public understanding of these topics.