• Twitter said it has removed thousands of malicious accounts.
  • Twitter said takedowns illustrate its progress.
  • Facebook also said Thursday that it has deleted accounts and pages.

Twitter revealed on Thursday that it had removed thousands of suspected accounts from Iran, Russia and Venezuela for spreading misinformation online, including hitherto unknown efforts to target the elections. mid-term 2018 in the United States.

Before US voters went to the polls, some of these campaigns with foreign partners sought to stir up social and political unrest around burning issues, the company said, echoing the tactics used by social media companies for two years. years. This approach was adopted by the Internet Research Agency, an organization linked to the Russian government, two years earlier, with the aim of guiding the 2016 presidential election in favor of Donald Trump.

Twitter said it had removed 418 accounts believed to have been created in Russia before polling day last November, but declined to say when and said it could not permanently tie the efforts to the IRA.

Similar tactics have also been used by agents suspected of being in Venezuela: Twitter said it had removed 764 native accounts that imitated Russia's news operations. The company announced it had removed the majority of these accounts in November 2017, but nearly a quarter of newly created accounts tweeted 50,000 times about the mid-term elections of 2018. Twitter said a second "campaign of state-supported influence "discovered and disabled in Venezuela was focused on the country's citizens.

And Twitter has confirmed that it has uncovered other malicious activities from Iran that were part of a campaign unearthed for the first time in 2018 in an effort to reinforce political messages disseminated by the state-run media. . Twitter announced the removal of more than 2,600 accounts suspected of being linked to this network. About a third tweeted in English, said the company, a small fraction of which related to the US congressional elections.

Carlos Monje Jr., director of public policy, government and philanthropy in the United States and Canada of the company, wrote in a blog. He said that "majority of these accounts were suspended before the voting day". Twitter also revealed that it has taken action against nearly 6,000 tweets aimed at discouraging voters from voting, most often in the United States.

On the one hand, Twitter said the takedowns announced Thursday illustrate its progress two years after the Russian misinformation campaign in 2016 reached hundreds of millions of social media users on the Web. Like its counterparts in Silicon Valley, Twitter said it spotted the threats much earlier and limited their reach by investing in new employees, clearer policies on abuse, and tools. improved artificial intelligence capable of fighting false accounts or suspicious posts more quickly than man. the moderators.

But the magnitude of his revelations - nearly three months after polling day - also claims that more malicious actors around the world are borrowing from Russia's war book for the destabilization of the United States or to promote political discourses favorable to their governments. The pressure on Facebook, Twitter and their counterparts in the technology sector to improve their defenses in response is expected to intensify as the 2020 presidential election approaches.

In total, Twitter estimated that all of its users had sent more than 99 million tweets between the first primaries of March to polling day, the "majority" of them coming from "individuals expressing their point of view. ", wrote Carlos Monje Jr., director of the company. Public policy, government and philanthropy in the United States and Canada

For its part, Facebook announced Thursday that it had removed a total of 783 accounts, pages and groups from Iran posing as news sites in foreign languages ​​to broadcast political messages, including anti-Israeli memes. According to an analysis by Digital Council's Digital Forensic Research Labor, the most popular pages contained millions of video views, hundreds of thousands of likes, and tens of thousands of followers. At least one page posted in English dealt with anti-Western themes, including a video viewed more than 1 million times, suggesting that the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks constituted "inside work" for the US government, showed analysis.

Previously, Facebook had announced in January that it had removed hundreds of pages from Russia that seemed to focus on weather and regional sports, but in fact allowed the Russian state media to secretly reach social media users.

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