Twitter suspends accounts for 'coordination' amid US election uncertainty

Twitter suspends accounts for 'coordination' amid US election uncertainty
Facebook also removed several accounts over 'inauthentic behaviour'.
2 min read
04 November, 2020
Twitter suspended several accounts and appended tweets with warnings [Getty]

Twitter has suspended a number of accounts for posting identical US election-related content that appeared to be covertly automated, in breach of the social media platform's policy against "coordination".

Among the accounts suspended were FJNewsReporter, Crisis_Intel, Faytuks and SVNewsAlerts - some of which had encouraged their followers to subscribe to each other.

The SVNewsAlerts account alone had gained more than 10,000 followers in the week running up to 3 November, bringing its total follower count to over 78,000. The account echoed rhetoric from US President Donald Trump's camp about voting reliability and election-related unrest.

The president, who early on Wednesday threatened to go to the Supreme Court to stop vote counting, has been accused by critics of attempting to stir unrest in anticipation of a possible Joe Biden win.

Some of the suspended accounts were reportedly monitored by Russian media, with both the SVNewsAlerts and Faytuks accounts having been highlighted by Moscow-backed news outlets Sputnik and RT, according to Reuters. This is despite the Faytuks account having had only around 11,000 followers.

Facebook also removed several accounts behind the SV News and FJ News pages. The social media giant cited inauthentic behaviour in its decision.

As vote counting continues in the remaining states to be declared, President Trump and leading Republicans have escalated rhetoric about alleged voting fraud, raising alarm among observers.

"We did win this election," Trump said in an extraordinary speech from the ceremonial East Room of the White House. "This is a fraud on the American public."

Republican accounts and online publications echoed the president's rhetoric, with some using the hashtag #StopTheSteal to raise awareness about alleged fraud at play. Twitter added fact-checking labels to multiple tweets from the @PhillyGOP account, which was one account which used the #StopTheSteal hashtag.

The hashtag spiked from a few dozen mentions to over 2,000 mentions over a 15-minute period on Wednesday morning, according to Zignal Labs.

According to initial results, Trump and Biden are neck-and-neck in the race for the US presidency. While some polls expected Biden to sweep to a clear victory on Tuesday, Trump appears to have outperformed expectations in several key states, including Florida, North Carolina and Georgia.

Trump made a premature victory claim - unprecedented for a US president - shortly after 2:20am (0720 GMT) on Wednesday, as states across the country continued to count votes. 

Biden slammed Trump's statement as an "outrageous... naked effort to take away the democratic rights of American citizens".

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