Twitter confirmed that it removed fake accounts from its platform that were posing as Black supporters of President Trump as it looks to crack down on disinformation heading into the presidential election.
“Our teams are working diligently to investigate this activity and will take action in line with the Twitter Rules if Tweets are found to be in violation.”
“Presently, we’ve taken action on some of the Tweets and accounts…for violations of our policies on platform manipulation and spam,” a Twitter spokesperson told The Hill.
The confirmation comes after an investigation from The Washington Post found that several such accounts had been taken down over violating Twitter’s rules against platform manipulation. The rules bar users from posting information intending to artificially amplify or suppress information or try to manipulate or disrupt other people’s interactions on Twitter.
Twitter confirmed that among the over two dozen accounts taken down were @CopJrCliff, which depicted the image of a Black police officer, President Trump and the words “VOTE REPUBLICAN.” In a sign of foul play, the accounted tweeted just eight times but garnered 24,000 followers.
Many of the accounts reportedly sent out messages using verbatim language to boost the president and used publicly available pictures of Black Americans, claiming to belong to people who were part of pro-Trump groups.
The @CopJrCliff used a photograph of Portland, Ore. police officer Jakhary Jackson, who told The Post he does not use social media.
“It’s asymmetrical warfare,” Darren Linvill, lead researcher for the Clemson University Media Forensics Hub, told The Post. “They don’t have to last long. And they are so cheap to produce that you can get a lot of traction without a whole lot of work. Thank you, Twitter.”
Besides accounts that depicted Black Trump supporters, other accounts that were removed included fake accounts for White House staffers.
Twitter did not say if it suspected foreign interference efforts in the election were behind the fake accounts but maintained it would publicly disclose any such findings.
Trump and the GOP have sought to highlight Black supporters of the president in an attempt to cut into Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s margins among voters of color. While Trump has virtually no chance of winning the majority of votes cast by Black Americans, even marginal improvements over his 2016 showing could hurt Biden’s chances in key swing states like Michigan, North Carolina and more.