Twitter Releases More Datasets on Accounts Removed for State-Backed Activities

The new information covers the UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Ecuador, China and Hong Kong

Twitter plans to more routinely disclose data of this type via its @TwitterSafety account
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Twitter released information on six datasets covering accounts that were removed for coordinated, state-backed activities in several countries.

The social network said in a blog post Friday that it began releasing these datasets in October 2018 as a way “to empower academic and public understanding of these coordinated campaigns around the world and to empower independent, third-party scrutiny of these tactics on our platform.”

Other previous datasets were released in January, June and August.

Twitter also said it plans to more routinely disclose data of this type via its @TwitterSafety account, as well as in future editions of its Twitter Transparency Report.

The details of the six datasets released Friday follow:

United Arab Emirates and Egypt

Twitter removed a network of 273 accounts originating in these two countries, saying that they were interconnected in their goals and tactics, which involved a multifaceted information operation targeting countries including Qatar and Iran, as well as amplifying messaging that was supportive of the government in Saudi Arabia.

The social network said it found evidence that these accounts were created and managed by private technology company DotDev, which operates in the UAE and Egypt. DotDev and all accounts associated with it have been permanently suspended from Twitter.

Another group of 4,248 accounts based in the UAE and directed mainly at Qatar and Yemen was also suspended. Twitter said they used false personae and tweeted about regional issues such as the civil war in Yemen and the Houthi Movement.

Saudi Arabia

Six accounts linked to the country’s state-run media apparatus were removed for engaging in coordinated efforts to amplify pro-government messaging and presenting themselves as independent journalistic outlets.

The account of former royal court advisor Saud al-Qahtani was also permanently suspended for violating Twitter’s platform manipulation policies.

Spain

A total of 265 accounts, operated by Partido Popular, were removed for falsely boosting public sentiment online.

The social network said they were active for a relatively short period, and they consisted mainly of fake accounts spamming or retweeting in order to boost engagement.

Ecuador

A network of 1,019 accounts tied to the PAIS Alliance political party was removed earlier this summer. Twitter said the network was made up mostly of fake account and primarily spread content about the administration of President Lenín Moreno, regarding issues such as laws on freedom of speech, government censorship and technology.

Manipulation and retweet spam were most commonly used.

China and Hong Kong

Twitter revealed in August that it identified a network of over 200,000 fake accounts based in China that was aimed at sowing discord about the protest movement in Hong Kong.

Additional datasets related to 4,301 of the most active accounts in this network was released Friday.

All of the new datasets released by Twitter can be accessed here.

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