Twitter Deletes Thousands of Accounts Linked to Iran

A 3D-printed logo for Twitter is seen in this illustrative

A 3D-printed logo for Twitter is seen in this illustrative

Twitter said Thursday it removed 4,779 accounts linked to the Iranian government and will add more data from account takedowns to a public database.

Most of the Iranian accounts were found to be spreading news stories angled to support Iranian geopolitical interests or to be fake user profiles created to manipulate online debate.

"We believe that people and organisations with the advantages of institutional power and which consciously abuse our service are not advancing healthy discourse but are actively working to undermine it", said Yoel Roth, head of site integrity at Twitter. The accounts have been archived to its public database launched past year, the company added.

And the third set's 2,865 accounts made use of false identities and aimed their efforts at discussions on political and social issues in both Iran and around the world, Twitter said.

Many of the Iran-linked accounts tweeted out news content, with an angle that benefited the country.

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San Francisco: In its bid to stop the spread of misinformation and hoaxes, Twitter has pulled down nearly 5,000 accounts suspected of being directly run or linked to the Iranian government.

The St. Petersburg-based "troll farm" has been accused by USA intelligence agencies of working with Russian intelligence to sow discord and spread misinformation in the run-up to the 2016 US presidential election.

Other accounts shut down included 130 set up by supporters of Catalonian independence, 33 run by a "commercial entity in Venezuela and four Russian accounts used by the notorious Internet Research Agency (IRA)". He added, "Platform manipulation is a violation of the Twitter Rules".

Twitter's archive aims to give researchers insight into the size, scope and method of state-backed information operations.

Twitter's legal, policy, and trust and safety lead, Vijaya Gadde, recently admitted that she has "no doubt" that content on Twitter and other social networks could contribute to radicalisation, while revealing that 1.6 million accounts have been taken down related to terrorism. "We believe the public and research community are better informed by transparency".

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