San Francisco: Twitter on Monday (local time) announced that it removed at least 936 accounts linked to a campaign by China that were aimed at “deliberately” sowing political discord in Hong Kong, which has been rocked by anti-government protests since June.
In its blog post, Twitter said it disclosed a “significant state-backed information operation” and also suspended approximately 200,000 accounts. “Based on our intensive investigations, we have reliable evidence to support that this is a coordinated state-backed operation. Specifically, we identified large clusters of accounts behaving in a coordinated manner to amplify messages related to the Hong Kong protests,” it stated.
The tech giant also released an archive of offending tweets and accounts of the Hong Kong protests, noting that “covert, manipulative behaviors have no place on our service”. “They violate the fundamental principles on which our company is built. As we have said before, it is clear that information operations and coordinated inauthentic behavior will not cease,” Twitter said.
Hong Kong has seen 11 consecutive weeks of anti-government protests that began against a now-suspended extradition bill, which have since broadened to include calls for democracy, police accountability and the resignation of Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who is backed by Beijing.
In recent weeks, protesters and police had violently clashed with each other with both escalating their use of force, leading to a full-blown crisis in the Asian financial hub. Hong Kong functions under the ‘one country, two systems’ rule and was handed back to China by Britain in 1997.