- Published: Friday, 14 June 2019
By INU Staff
INU - Social media site Twitter announced Thursday that it purged thousands of accounts that were linked to coordinated, state-backed activities that it believes are from the Iranian government.
Twitter removed 4,779 accounts that it believed were associated with or backed by Iran and archived them to its public database. Over 1600 of the removed accounts sent out a massive two million tweets that the report said shared “global news content, often with an angle that benefited the diplomatic and geostrategic views of the Iranian state”.
Twitter also suspended 248 accounts that appeared to be linked to the Iranian government and engaged in public discussions about Israel, while the other 2,865 accounts “employed a range of false personas to target conversations about political and social issues in Iran and globally”.
Twitter created this data archive for accounts associated with known state-backed information operations last October to increase transparency and fight back against manipulation on its platform.
Twitter wrote in a blog post: “Thousands of researchers from across the globe have downloaded datasets, which contain more than 30 million Tweets and over 1 terabyte of media, using our archive to conduct their own investigations and to share their insights and independent analysis with the world.”
Twitter has also removed and archived four accounts affiliated with the Russian “troll farm” that was indicted by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller for attempting to interfere with the 2016 presidential election, 130 accounts linked to the Catalan independence movement in Spain, and 33 accounts that engaged in manipulative behaviour related to Venezuela.
Twitter has been increasing its detection of and actions against state-backed misinformation campaigns prior to the 2020 elections after an investigation by the US government determined there was a “systematic” Russian campaign to undermine its democratic process. The worry is that the next attempt to hack the US election could come from anywhere.
With tensions between the US and Iran heating up, many fear that Iran could attempt to interfere in the US elections to get a pro-Iran candidate in the White House. After all, cyber warfare is how the Iranian Regime prefers to attack because its less likely that it will get linked back to the Regime and no Iranian fighters are lost. That’s also why Iran prefers to attack its enemies using proxy groups, like Hamas and Hezbollah.
After Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal last year, citing Iran’s noncompliance, he began imposing sanctions on the country.