Twitter Removes Accounts Linked To China, Russia, Turkey Due To Information Manipulation


Twitter Inc. (TWTR) said it removed 32,242 state-backed accounts tied to China, Russia and Turkey for various violations related to information manipulation.

The biggest network of the accounts was linked to China. The social media giant said it removed 23,750 accounts that were boosted by 150,000 so-called “amplifier” accounts.

“This entire network was involved in a range of manipulative and coordinated activities,” Twitter said in a statement. “They were tweeting predominantly in Chinese languages and spreading geopolitical narratives favorable to the Communist Party of China (CCP), while continuing to push deceptive narratives about the political dynamics in Hong Kong.”

A network of 1,152 accounts attributed to Russia was taken down for cross-posting and pushing content in an inauthentic, coordinated manner for political ends. Activities included promoting the United Russia party and attacking political dissidents.

Detected in early 2020, the network of accounts associated with Turkey was using coordinated inauthentic activity, which was primarily targeted at domestic audiences within the country.

Based on Twitter’s analysis of the network’s technical indicators and account behaviors, the collection of fake and compromised accounts was being used to promote political narratives favorable to the AK Parti, and demonstrated strong support for President Erdogan. In addition, the broader network was also used for commercial activities, such as cryptocurrency-related spam. To undermine the activities Twitter removed 7,340 accounts.

Shares in Twitter have dropped 6% to $33.03 at the close on Thursday after regaining all of this year’s earlier losses.

This week, five-star analyst Justin Post at Merrill Lynch raised the stock’s price target to $42 from $35 and reiterated a Buy rating, citing Twitter’s fifth straight quarter of accelerating user growth, ongoing product improvements and a robust news flow in 2020.

“We are encouraged by user engagement growth, which we expect to translate to robust revenue growth in 2021 driven by updated ad products and the return of sports and other events,” Post wrote in a note to investors. “We see an attractive risk / reward setup as sports and other live events return (NBA, Movies, Olympics) and see potential for 30%+ revenue growth with an improving ad product.”

Turning now to the rest of Wall Street, TipRanks data shows that analysts are sidelined on Twitter’s stock with a Hold consensus based on 20 Holds and 3 Sells versus 7 Buys. The $30.81 average price target projects 6.7% downside potential in the shares the coming 12 months. (See Twitter stock analysis on TipRanks).

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