Twitter Deletes Accounts Designed for U.S. Voter Suppression

(Bloomberg) -- Twitter Inc. deleted automated accounts that were discouraging people from voting in next week’s U.S. midterm elections, amid the social network’s heightened efforts to deal with misinformation and manipulation.

“We removed a series of accounts for engaging in attempts to share disinformation in an automated fashion -- a violation of our policies,” a Twitter spokesman said Friday. “We stopped this quickly and at its source.” The accounts appeared to be domestic in origin, according to a person familiar with the matter.

While Twitter declined to specify how many accounts were taken down, Reuters earlier reported the number at more than 10,000. The accounts were made to look like they were from Democrats, and Twitter was alerted to the misinformation effort by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Reuters reported. The DCCC didn’t respond to a request for comment.

With the midterm elections looming, Twitter and its social media peers including Facebook Inc. have been taking more aggressive measures to fight abuses using human reviewers and improved algorithms. Twitter said Thursday that since Oct. 1, people have sent more than 10 million tweets about voting and early voting. The company has also added almost 1,000 election labels to accounts to distinguish candidates who have qualified for the ballot.

Millions of Americans already have cast ballots in the 37 states and Washington that allow some form of early voting.

Twitter has also created an events page focused on the midterm election to show the latest commentary. While many of the tweets were from verified accounts, several accounts were promoting disinformation about candidates.

The company said it’s working with state and federal officials and campaign organizations from both major political parties to help police the site.

“Our singular goal is to enforce our policies vigorously and protect conversational health on our service,” the spokesman said.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.