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Twitter removes pro-Russia accounts attacking Libyan government

Network of accounts was also supportive of Russia's geopolitics in Syria and Libya
Over the years, Twitter has removed tens of thousands of accounts that the company found were manipulating its platform to further political interests.
Over the years, Twitter has removed tens of thousands of accounts that the company found were using its platform to further political interests (AFP/File photo)

Twitter has announced that it removed thousands of accounts linked to state-backed information operations, including a network of accounts that were attacking the Libyan government.

The social media company said on Thursday that it "removed a network of 50 accounts that attacked the civilian Libyan government and actors that support it, while voicing significant support for Russia's geopolitical position in Libya and Syria".

The company also removed more than 2,000 accounts that "amplified Chinese Communist Party narratives" related to the treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.

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The announcement comes ahead of a presidential election in Libya later this month that is facing a growing number of issues including fraud, a fragile political structure, and potential disinformation campaigns on social media.

Last month, a report from the online magazine Rest of the World found that another social media platform, Facebook, was unprepared to deal with the complexities of the upcoming polls.

Over the years, Twitter has removed tens of thousands of accounts that the company found were manipulating its platform to further political interests.

Last June, Twitter said it removed more than 7,000 "fake and compromised" accounts set up to promote the Turkish government and the ruling Justice and Development Party. At the time, it also removed a number of China- and Russia-linked accounts.

In 2019, the social media giant removed 88,000 accounts, including nearly 6,000 accounts that were part of a "state-backed" information campaign that originated from Saudi Arabia.

Still, a number of activists have previously noted in a 2019 letter that the platform is not safe for them, saying that the company's policies - "or lack thereof" - have had "real-life consequences on the lives of thousands of Arab voices".

The letter came shortly after two former Twitter employees were charged in a California federal court with spying for Saudi Arabia and sharing user data with Saudi officials.

One employee accessed the data of more than 6,000 accounts over seven months before Twitter put him on administrative leave, according to a complaint filed by the US government.