Twitter has removed 130 accounts that appeared to originate from Iran and were attempting to disrupt public conversation around the 2020 US Presidential debate. The social network’s Support account has revealed the deletion on the platform. It also posted sample tweets that show support for Trump and question whether moderator Chris Wallace truly is nonpartisan.
According to the announcement, Twitter found the accounts based on intel provided by the FBI. In a statement provided to CNET, the federal agency confirmed that it does share information with social networks but refused to discuss details about this specific deletion: “Although we cannot discuss the specific information provided, the FBI regularly shares information with social media companies so they can better protect their platforms. The FBI is actively engaged with our federal partners, election officials and the private sector to mitigate foreign threats to our nation's security and our elections.”
Twitter said the deleted accounts had very low engagement and didn’t make an impact on public conversation, because it was able to identify them quickly. It also shared full details about them with other social networks. The company promises to publish more information about the deleted accounts and their content after it’s done with its investigation.
We identified these accounts quickly, removed them from Twitter, and shared full details with our peers, as standard. They had very low engagement and did not make an impact on the public conversation. Our capacity and speed continue to grow, and we'll remain vigilant. Samples ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/1qzzL8l29H
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) October 1, 2020
This is far from the first time Twitter has removed Iran-linked accounts for election interference. Back in February 2019, it deleted over 2,600 accounts from Iran as part of its efforts to prevent foreign players from using its platform to influence the outcome of the US midterm elections.