Twitter, Facebook Pull Accounts Tied to Chinese Disinformation

Ads were placed attacking Hong Kong protesters
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 19, 2019 4:40 PM CDT
Facebook, Twitter Say China Used Sites Against Protesters
People gather in Lafayette Square in front of the White House in Washington, Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019, in solidarity with the "Stand With Hong Kong, Power to the People Rally" in Hong Kong.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Twitter and Facebook have taken down scores of accounts they say are being used in the Chinese's government's disinformation campaign against the protesters in Hong Kong. Twitter has pulled 936 accounts, CNBC reports, saying in a post, "We have reliable evidence to support that this is a coordinated state-backed operation." Facebook then posted that it had taken down a few accounts, pages and groups after being tipped off by Twitter. Pinboard, a social media site, had warned last week that China's state media was using Twitter to attack the pro-democracy protesters.

The companies have been taking heat for not doing enough to stop the spread of propaganda and disinformation, per CNET. Twitter also announced Monday that, from now on, it won't accept advertising from state-controlled news media outlets. Twitter is blocked in China, but the Wall Street Journal points out that many people access it through proxy servers and virtual private networks. Twitter cited examples of posts from the suspended accounts, including images of violent clashes between police and demonstrators. One ad placed by state media, said, "Calls are mounting for immediate actions to restore order" in Hong Kong. Another said that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has been supportive of the protesters, "should fly to Hong Kong to see what the true facts are." (The demonstrators' goal Sunday was peace.)

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