SAN FRANCISCO - Twitter deletes accounts linked to foreign governments

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Twitter removes thousands of accounts linked to Iran government

Twitter Inc on Thursday said it removed thousands of accounts linked to coordinated, state-backed activities it believes were from the Iranian government and archived them to its public database launched previous year.

More than 1,600 removed accounts sent out almost 2m tweets sharing "global news content, often with an angle that benefited the diplomatic and geostrategic views of the Iranian state", the report said.

The 4,800 accounts were not a unified block, said Yoel Roth, Twitter's head of site integrity in a blog detailing its actions. The accounts have been archived to its public database launched previous year, the company added.

The new data archive includes three sets of accounts, from Iran, which Twitter said all were associated with or directly backed by the Iranian government, and some of which were involved with discussions related to Israel.

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Many of the Iran-linked accounts tweeted out news content, with an angle that benefited the country. The latest report discloses that thousands of accounts originating in Iran have been suspended.

Twitter has been publishing transparency reports on the investigations it makes about state-backed information operations since 2018.

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Following discussions between the microblogging platform and law enforcement, Twitter believes that these four accounts were associated with the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Moscow-based entity and troll farm dedicated to promoting the Kremlin's political agenda.

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Mr Roth said Twitter had collected all the suspect accounts it had removed since beginning its purge into a data set that it provided to researchers. Thirty-three accounts were linked to manipulative behavior in Venezuela.

"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".

Other fake accounts included ones associated with the Catalan independence movement in Spain, Twitter said, which appear to have been created to try and influence conversation.

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