Twitter Deletes 10,000 Accounts Ahead of Midterms After Democrats Tell It To
By Benjamin Arie
Social media companies have repeatedly insisted that they’re politically unbiased, but one of the largest networks in the world just purged thousands of users at the request of Democrats.
According to Reuters, at least 10,000 accounts were recently deleted from Twitter after the Democratic Party complained about how they were being used.
“We took action on relevant accounts and activity on Twitter,” the company vaguely confirmed to the news service.
The reason? Democrats claimed these were automated accounts pretending to be liberals, discouraging certain voters from going to the polls on Tuesday.
“The Tweets included ones that discouraged Democratic men from voting, saying that would drown out the voice of women, according to two of the sources familiar with the flagging operation,” reported the news service.
However, Twitter did not readily provide examples of the accounts that it purged or show evidence that these were in fact automated accounts.
Alarmingly, the company appeared to be taking directions from the Democratic Party about what to do on its own site. The supposedly fake accounts were not detected by Twitter, but were instead found by the partisan Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and put on a list.
“The DCCC developed its own system for identifying and reporting malicious automated accounts on social media,” Reuters reported. “The Democratic National Committee works with a group of contractors and partners to rapidly identify misinformation campaigns.”
That’s worth highlighting. Again, here’s what’s happening: A Democratic group with obvious bias toward its side is creating lists of accounts that it claims are “malicious,” and then giving these to Twitter for deletion.
Is there transparency or accountability? Does Twitter verify each account before deleting it, or just take the DCCC at its word? What keeps the Democratic group from falsely flagging legitimate accounts of political opponents or conservative voters?
The answers to those questions are still unclear, and the social media giant is staying tight-lipped about its internal process.
Removing actual false accounts is fine, but it would be a lot easier to trust these companies if there weren’t so many red flags about bias already flying.
Once again, a social media giant is essentially telling the public to “trust them” with not much more than a wink and a nod. That’s the same general response that Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg gave in front of Congress — but as recent news showed, those words rang hollow.
As we reported just days ago, investigative reporters were able to pose as U.S. senators — all 100 of them — and were approved to post influential political ads under false names.
“Facebook admitted that the ads should never have been approved, and issued a fairly weak mea culpa,” we reported.
“We know we can’t do this alone, and by housing these ads for up to seven years, people, regulators, third parties and watchdog groups can hold these groups more accountable,” said Facebook Director of Product Management Rob Leathern in a statement.
That means Facebook and Twitter seem to be increasingly leaning on outside parties to do their jobs for them. That’s alarming by itself, but even more eye-opening when it’s a clearly partisan group like the DCCC “assisting” them.