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Twitter, Facebook take down thousands of foreign disinformation trolls
vazovsky/Flickr (Public Domain)
Twitter and Facebook both announced Thursday that they had shut down thousands of accounts and pages on their platforms that were part of disinformation and trolling campaigns managed by foreign governments.
Social media giants have been under increased pressure in recent years to investigate and take action against disinformation campaigns on their platforms by state actors, ever since the U.S. intelligence community determined that Russia had used such tactics to “undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process” during the 2016 presidential election.
A spokesperson for Twitter told NBC News that its operation took down more than 6,000 posts and suspended thousands of accounts associated with five different countries, all of which were engaged in astroturfing campaigns similar to those commanded by the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency.
The company said that it had purged 418 Russian troll accounts, more than 2,600 Iranian accounts, and 1,960 Venezuelan accounts. The Venezuelan accounts were allegedly part of two organized networks, the biggest of which the company claims to have connected to embattled president Nicolas Maduro.
Facebook, meanwhile, announced via its blog that it had removed a network of 262 Pages and 356 accounts on its platform that were “engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior tied to Iran.”
These pages were “repurposing Iranian state media content and engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior targeting people across the world” the company said.
Facebook also removed 162 suspect Iranian accounts on Instagram.
David Gilmour is a reporter who specializes in national politics, internet culture, and technology. He previously covered civil liberties, crime, and politics for Vice.