Twitter reveals purges of state-sponsored threat actors

Social network Twitter has detailed multiple efforts by several governments on its platform, aimed at negatively influencing public opinion against Western interests.

Two networks that Twitter says can be reliably tied to the Russian government were removed, comprising 69 and 31 accounts respectively.

The first network tried to amplify narratives aligned with the Russian government and focused on undermining faith in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) military alliance, Twitter said.

A second targeted the United States and the European Union with influence efforts, and appears to be affiliated with the Internet Research Agency (IRA) and Russian government-linked actors.

The IRA is an infamous “troll factory” based in St Petersburg linked to oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

In 2018, the United States charged several IRA staffers with information warfare and interference to help former president Donald Trump win the election.

Prior to removing the Russian government-linked accounts, Twitter purged another 130 linked to the Islamic Republic of Iran in October last year.

The Iranian accounts attempted to disrupt public conversation during the first US presidential debate.

Since October Twitter has found additional Iranian accounts, and suspended 238 of them in total.

Government-linked accounts of Caucasian nation Armenia were also removed by Twitter.

These targeted neighbouring Azerbaijan, which Armenia is at war with.

In some cases, Armenian actors set up as fake accounts purporting to be Armenian news organisations as well as government and political figures, Twitter said.

Twitter will archive the threat actor accounts and make them available to independent researchers for analysis.