Twitter’s fight against coordinated misinformation attempts aimed at manipulating the American public continued with hundreds of new account suspensions, the company said Tuesday. As part of a probe into an online misinformation campaign originating from Iran that Twitter first disclosed last week, the San Francisco-based firm banned 486 more accounts, with the total number of suspensions now reaching 770. Not all profiles managed by the creators of the surreptitious initiative were seemingly targeting American citizens as fewer than 100 of them falsely claimed they’re located in the United States, suggesting the effort was global in nature.
The accounts targeting the American public had 1,268 followers and tweeted 867 times in total, Twitter disclosed, indicating the effect of the misinformation endeavor in the U.S. was limited. The screenshots shared by the microblogging platform below are some of the evidence they engaged in social commentary meant to divide the American public, similar to what certain Russian agents practiced in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election in the U.S. One of the suspended accounts was a registered advertiser but spent only $30 on Twitter promotions in 2017 and didn’t target any American users with the ads, though the contents of the paid material in question are yet to be disclosed.
Earlier this month, both Facebook and Google cracked down on similar coordinated misinformation attempts from Iran, with the latter explicitly linking them to state-owned Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting. The timing of the disclosures implies the three campaigns originated from the same source, though neither Facebook nor Twitter claimed to have obtained evidence suggesting the manipulation attempts were sponsored by a foreign state. Besides Iran, Facebook also identified new misinformation efforts from Russia on its main platform and Instagram earlier this month, the social media giant said. The fight against fake news and similar content is likely to become even more heated as the November U.S. mid-terms draw nearer, with Internet juggernauts already facing massive public pressure to combat such platform abuse more effectively.
Fewer than 100 of the 770 suspended accounts claimed to be located in the U.S. and many of these were sharing divisive social commentary. On average, these 100 Tweeted 867 times, were followed by 1, 268 accounts, and were less than a year old. Examples below. pic.twitter.com/LQhbvFjxSo
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) August 27, 2018