UK media is reporting that official Russian government accounts are exploiting a Twitter loophole to spread disinformation through a coordinated retweet network, although coordinated activity is against Twitter’s rules. According to a BBC report:
March 19, 2022 The Russian government has a huge network of official Twitter accounts — the BBC found more than 100 of them. They range from accounts that represent foreign missions or embassies, with a few thousand followers, to those with more than a million followers. President Putin has his own account. Many of the accounts are labelled as Russian government organisations by Twitter. Yet, while many of these accounts have spread disinformation, Twitter deals with them differently to Russian state media — like RT or Sputnik. On 28 February, Twitter announced it would prevent tweets from Russian state-affiliated media outlets from being eligible for “amplification” — meaning they wouldn’t be recommended in the home timeline, notifications, and other places on Twitter. But Twitter has confirmed to the BBC that this policy does not include Russian government accounts. […] Intrigued by this spider web of Russian government accounts, Mr Graham — who specialises in analysing co-ordinated activity on social media — decided to investigate further. He analysed 75 Russian government Twitter profiles which, in total, have more than 7 million followers. The accounts have received 30 million likes, been retweeted 36 million times and been replied to 4 million times. He looked at how many times each Twitter account retweeted one of the other 74 profiles within an hour. He discovered that the Kremlin’s network of Twitter accounts work together to retweet and drive up traffic. This practice is sometimes called “astroturfing” — when the owner of several accounts uses the profiles they control to retweet content and amplify reach.
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The BBC report says many examples of Russian disinformation are still up on the Russian government’s Twitter accounts, including unfounded claims about bioweapons in Ukraine. Many of these unfounded claims have repeatedly been amplified by an extensive network of Russian government-linked accounts retweeting each other within 60 minutes. According to another recent US media report, the most prominent accounts within the network are the two Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs accounts (@mfa_russia and @mid_rf), the Russian Mission in Geneva (@mission_russian), and the Russian Embassy in the USA (@rusembusa).
UK media reported earlier this month that Twitter removed a post from the Russian embassy in London about the Mariupol hospital bombing, which claimed that the facility was no longer operational and that images of the attack had been faked.
The Global Influence Operations Report recently reported that there has been a clear overlap between pro-Russian propaganda and genuine Chinese officials amplifying it on Twitter.