BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Twitter took down thousands of accounts linked to Egypt, Honduras, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Serbia on Thursday for either taking directions from the governments or promoting pro-government content.
Twitter and other social media companies are under pressure to clean up misinformation and hateful content on their platforms, while abuse related to the coronavirus outbreak has also increased scrutiny of their actions.
Twitter said it removed the accounts because they violated its policies and were a targeted attempt to undermine the public conversation.
It took down 2,541 accounts in the Egypt-based El Fagr network because it created fake accounts to amplify pro-government messages critical of Iran, Qatar, and Turkey.
“Information we gained externally indicates it was taking direction from the Egyptian government,” Twitter said.
The company removed 3,104 fake accounts created from a single IP range in Honduras by a staffer on the government’s behalf to retweet the president’s account.
An investigation that followed a report by investigative website Bellingcat on an Indonesian information operation targeting the West Papuan independence movement resulted in the removal of 795 fake accounts.
Twitter also took down 5,350 accounts associated with Saudi Arabia and operating out of multiple countries including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates which had content praising the Saudi leadership and critical of Qatar and Turkish activity in Yemen.
A total of 8,558 accounts working to promote Serbia’s ruling party and its leader was also removed.
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Stephen Coates)