Company

Disclosing networks to our state-linked information operations archive

By ‎@TwitterSafety ‎
Thursday, 8 October 2020

Today we are disclosing five distinct networks of accounts to our archive of state-linked information operations. The accounts that we have published in our archive today - the only archive of its kind in the industry - include independent information operations that we have attributed to Iran, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Thailand and Russia. 

Post-investigation, we permanently suspended all 1,594 accounts associated with the five networks, for various violations of our platform manipulation policies. Along with our enforcement, we shared early access to the data we’re releasing today with the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO) for independent investigation and analysis.

Iran

Based on information shared by industry peers, we identified a network of primarily compromised accounts on Twitter operating from Iran, which artificially amplified conversations on politically sensitive topics, including Black Lives Matter (BLM), the murder of George Floyd, and other issues of racial and social justice in the United States. 

In cases where we identify that an account has been compromised for the purposes of engaging in violative behavior, we aim to restore the account to the original account holder. We were able to do so successfully in most cases here. In all, we suspended a total of 104 accounts connected with this campaign. 

To protect the privacy of people whose accounts were used without permission for this campaign, we are hashing all user-identifiable information connected with this set across all the data we are releasing.

Saudi Arabia 

We investigated and removed 33 accounts originating in Saudi Arabia, with ties to the Saudi government. These accounts were created to impersonate key Qatari political figures and to advance narratives about Qatari politics which are geostrategically favorable to the Saudi authorities. 

Cuba 

We have permanently suspended 526 fake accounts run by youth organizations with ties to the Cuban government, including Unión de Jóvenes Comunistas (UJC) and Federación Estudiantil Universitaria (FEU).

Thailand

Our investigation uncovered a network of accounts partaking in information operations that we can reliably link to the Royal Thai Army (RTA). These accounts were engaging in amplifying pro-RTA and pro-government content, as well as engaging in behavior targeting prominent political opposition figures.

We are disclosing 926 accounts today and continue to enforce against small-scale activity associated with this network, as we identify it. 

Russia 

We communicated proactively about this set of five accounts at the beginning of September 2020. Today, we’re adding them to the archive. 

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Working collaboratively with industry peers and the FBI, we were made aware of a number of accounts that had potential links to a fake news agency called PeaceData. They were immediately removed from the service and we’ve marked all links to the site as unsafe across the service. 

Our work in this area 

Our goal with these disclosures is to continue to build public understanding around the ways in which state actors try to abuse and undermine open democratic conversation. To build on this mission we hosted an online conference this summer with Carnegie that brought together industry experts to discuss further collaboration and ways to empower deeper research of these critical issues. We will continue to facilitate these forums in 2021. 

We believe we have a responsibility to protect the integrity of the public conversation and hold state power to account. We will continue to keep our archive updated so the public, journalists, and the research community can access and analyze these networks. 

Keep on top of regular updates from us over at @TwitterSafety.

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