Twitter suspends thousands of accounts in Spain and the MIddle East

Twitter suspends thousands of accounts in Spain and the MIddle East
Copyright REUTERS/Susana Vera
By Alice Tidey & Marta Rodriguez
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The People's Party said that it had never created false accounts on Twitter.


Twitter announced on Friday that it had removed thousands of accounts for violating its "platform manipulation" policies, including 259 operated by Spain's opposition People's Party.

"We have removed 259 accounts we identified as falsely boosting public sentiment online in Spain," the social media platform said in a blog post.

"Operated by Partido Popular (People's Party), the accounts were active for a relatively short period, and consisted primarily of fake accounts engaging in spamming retweet behaviour to increase engagement," it added.

Contacted by Euronews, the People's Party said that it had never created false accounts on Twitter. 

They argued that their supporters are much more effective at spreading the party's message through their own personal accounts, but added that they cannot control how their supporters interact on the platform.

Middle East

The bulk of the accounts deleted were tied to Middle Eastern governments.

More than 4,258 accounts operated from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), directed mainly at Qatar and Yemen were suspended for "tweeting about regional issues, such as the Yemeni Civil War and the Houthi Movement," Twitter explained

An additional 267 accounts originating from the UAE and Egypt were removed from the platform for conducting "a multi-faceted information operation primarily targeting Qatar, and other countries such as Iran."

"It also amplified messaging supportive of the Saudi government," it added.

A further six accounts linked to Saudi-Arabia's state-run media apparatus were removed for engaging in "coordinated efforts to amplify messaging that was beneficial to the Saudi government" while presenting themselves as "independent journalistic outlets."

The account of Saud al-Qahtani, a former royal advisor dismissed last year and implicated in the murder of Washington Post columnist and Saudi regime critic Jamal Khashoggi, was also permanently suspended "for violations of our platform manipulation policies."

Twitter also said it had removed over 1,000 accounts in Ecuador tied to the ruling PAIS Alliance political party which focused on "spreading content about President Moreno's administration" through hashtag manipulation and retweet spam.

Catalan independence movement

The blog post was Twitter's fourth announcement this year related to the removal of accounts tied to state-backed information operations on its platform. Spain has so far been the only European country to appear in the disclosures.

In June, Twitter announced that it had removed 130 fake accounts originating in Spain and directly associated with the Catalan independence movement and the pro-independence Republican Left of Catalonia party.

"The network includes fake accounts which appear to have been created with the intent to inorganically influence the conversation in politically advantageous ways," Twitter said at the time.

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