Twitter suspends nearly 1,000 accounts connected to 'state-backed operation' against Hong Kong protesters
Twitter on Monday announced it has suspended nearly 1,000 accounts after discovering a "state-backed" campaign to "sow political discord" in Hong Kong, with Facebook finding similar behavior on its platform as well.
Twitter said that 936 accounts originating in the People's Republic of China were "deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground." The platform goes on to say that it has "reliable evidence" that this was part of a "coordinated state-backed" operation.
"Covert, manipulative behaviors have no place on our service," Twitter says in its announcement. An example tweet associated with this alleged state-back campaign calls the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong "violent" and "radical." About 200,000 accounts were "proactively" suspended before being "substantially active," Twitter also said.
At the same time, Facebook on Monday also said that it was removing multiple pages, groups, and accounts that were engaging in "coordinated inauthentic behavior" and posting about the Hong Kong protests, and like Twitter, it said that that "our investigation found links to individuals associated with the Chinese government." Facebook discovered these fake accounts "based on a tip shared by Twitter," according to the announcement.
BuzzFeed News had previously reported on Monday that Chinese state-run media outlets have been buying ads on both platforms painting the protesters as the "public enemy." Twitter is now updating its policies and will no longer accept advertising from state-controlled news media.