Amid increasing evidence that Twitter was used by Russian operatives to influence voters during the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, the social media platform has started asking users to verify their accounts and has allegedly started deleting Russian “bot” accounts (automated profiles that exist purely to share links to questionable, inflammatory news sites). This has led to a conservative Twitter freak-out.
Oddly, this effort has enraged numerous Trump followers who now claim that Twitter has locked them out from their accounts and drastically reduced their follower counts, which of course raises the question: Were most of these people’s followers actually just Russian spambots? LOL, if so.
Recently, Twitter admitted that at least 3,814 accounts on its platform were associated with the Kremlin-linked propaganda group known as the Internet Research Association (IRA), a group often referred to as a “Russian troll farm” which stoked pro-Trump sentiment during the 2016 election.
By January 2018, Twitter had notified over 1.4 million users that they may have interacted with Russian bot accounts. Twitter has reportedly wiped out 50,000 accounts associated with Russian political operatives.
As a result, various conservative Twitter users have begun accusing Twitter of censorship, account purges and a massive #TwitterLockOut. One such user, white supremacist punching bag Richard Spencer (below), lamented losing 1,000 of his 80,000 followers.
Here are some tweets showing the conservative Twitter freak-out:
I've lost close to 1,000 followers offer the past few hours.
Major purge underway.
— Richard ? Spencer (@RichardBSpencer) February 21, 2018
We're all Americans who voted for Trump, without being influenced by commies, yet every major Trump supporting account was locked out overnight. Unbelievable!!!#TwitterLockOut pic.twitter.com/xJk1H5ROdA
— TrumpIsMyPresident™ (@Trumpism_45) February 21, 2018
Twitter Locked me out tonight. Lost 2,000 followers simply because I’m a conservative voice exposing Liberal hypocrisy! #TwitterLockOut
— ??CHIZ ?? (@CHIZMAGA) February 21, 2018
Why did I just lose 100 followers?
This is a damn joke. Twitter is absolutely censoring conservative and right wing speech for no damn reason other than their disagreement with it. But, liberals can write vile comments and threaten us with no punishment.
— Mike (@mike_Zollo) February 21, 2018
I lost over 3,000 followers.
What the hell is going on here?
— Philip Schuyler (@FiveRights) February 21, 2018
While Twitter hasn’t confirmed a massive bot sweep, they did issue a statement to the tech culture site Gizmodo stating, “Twitter’s tools are apolitical, and we enforce our rules without political bias.”
Their statement added:
As part of our ongoing work in safety, we identify suspicious account behaviors that indicate automated activity or violations of our policies around having multiple accounts or abuse.” The statement also said that Twitter sometimes asks “account owners to confirm a phone number so we can confirm a human is behind” an account.
Featured image by Marjan_Apostolovic via iStock
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