Twitter said Monday that it has suspended 936 accounts it said originated from within state-backed operations in China designed to spread disinformation related to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. Facebook, meanwhile, said that based on its own investigation it removed several pages, groups and accounts for similar behavior, saying its investigation also found links to individuals associated with the Chinese government.
“Overall, these accounts were deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground,” Twitter said in a blog post.
It added that the accounts were part of a larger network of about 200,000 that were “proactively suspended before they were substantially active on the service.”
The campaign rooted out by Facebook “engaged in a number of deceptive tactics, including the use of fake accounts — some of which had been already disabled by our automated systems — to manage Pages posing as news organizations, post in Groups, disseminate their content, and also drive people to off-platform news sites,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said in a post today.
The Hong Kong protests have drawn worldwide attention. Now in their 11th week, waves of pro-democracy demonstrators have been increasingly met by stiff resistance from police, while China has referred to them as radical, violent mobs.