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Twitter and Facebook close with linked accounts



The social media giants’ moves come after the Washington Post reported that Turning Point Action paid teens to flood the platforms with conservative topics of conversation, including disinformation and misleading claims. The campaign, The Post reported, worked like a troll farm, but had evaded disruption because it was conducted by people using their own accounts without disclosing that they were posting on behalf of Turning Point Action.

“It sounds like the Russians, but instead it comes from the Americans,” Jacob Ratkiewicz, software engineer at Google, told the newspaper.

Facebook spokesman Andy Stone told CNN that the platform removed multiple accounts for violating its multiple account existence and management guidelines. A Twitter spokesperson confirmed that several accounts were removed for violating their platform manipulation and spam policies.

Both platforms said they would continue to verify accounts. The Washington Post said they were part of the Turning Point Action campaign.

Austin Smith, the field director of Turning Point Action, told the Post in a statement, “Like everyone else, Turning Point Action̵

7;s plans for nationwide in-person events and activities have been completely disrupted by the pandemic.”

“Many positions that TPA had planned in fieldwork would be eliminated entirely, but TPA has managed to redefine those roles and work with our marketing partners and switched some to a virtual and online activist model,” he said.

Turning Point USA told CNN that it has no comment on the Washington Post report.

Concerns about misinformation on social media were at the fore in the presidential election as the platforms struggled to deal with a president eager to share rumors, unconfirmed viral videos, and conspiracy theories.

Facebook and Twitter promised to tackle misinformation earlier this year, but their summer responses to misleadingly edited political videos and harmful posts about Covid-19 were often lacking – and too slow.

In addition, Facebook announced earlier this month that individuals connected to the infamous St. Petersburg troll group that were part of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US presidential election are again trying to target Americans.

It appears to have ceased operations before it found widespread acceptance on Facebook or the rest of the internet. This reflects what happened around the 2018 mid-term elections when, as far as publicly known, the Russian trolls’ online efforts stalled and were meager.

The trolls were much more fortunate to gain followers and engagement in 2016, although it is not known what, if any, impact their work had on the elections.

CNN’s DJ Judd and Marshall Cohen contributed to this report.


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