Twitter disclosed a “significant state-backed information operation” originating from within the People’s Republic of China (PRC) targeting the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. It removed 936 accounts and suspended approximately 200,000 accounts its investigation found were illegitimate.
“Covert, manipulative behaviors have no place on our service – they violate the fundamental principles on which our company is built,” Twitter said in a statement.
The company released an archive of offending tweets and accounts, many of which accused protesters of violence and being sponsored by western governments. “We don’t want you radical people in Hong Kong,” one deleted tweet said.
The company also announced it would not accept money from any “state-controlled news media entities” in the future, including organizations such as China Daily. The new advertising rules do not apply to tax-funded state media organizations like BBC, PBS, NPR, or CBC.
Following Twitter’s publication of the campaign, Facebook said it hadremoved seven pages, three groups and five accounts belonging to a small network that originated in China and focused on Hong Kong.
“We’re constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don’t want our services to be used to manipulate people,” Facebook said.