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Alleged Bot Purge Sparks Outrage From Conservative Twitter Users

Alleged Bot Purge Sparks Outrage From Conservative Twitter Users

Shown her is a Twitter sign outside of the company's headquarters in San Francisco in 2016. The disinformation comes in various forms: conspiracy videos on YouTube, fake interest groups on Facebook, and armies of bot accounts that can hijack a topic or discussion on Twitter.

Prominent conservative pundits and activists said today that thousands of their followers had been deleted overnight.

Conservative Twitter users are fuming Wednesday after the social media company purged suspected malicious bots - the same automated accounts Russian agents are accused of using to wage an unprecedented propaganda campaign to help Donald Trump win the election.

Some users woke on Wednesday to find a sharp drop in followers, prompting a series of hashtags on the platform such as #TwitterLockOut and #TwitterPurge.

"The twitter purge is real", conservative podcast host Dan Bongino said on Twitter.

"The Words of Day Are "Twitter Purge" On Tuesday Night, Most of Us Lost Thousand of Followers". "We also take proactive action on accounts that we believe to be violation of the Twitter Rules, including requesting additional details like asking account owners to confirm a phone number".

"That's why some people may be experiencing suspensions or locks", the company said in a statement. A few complained they were temporarily locked out of their accounts because of "unusual activity" and "automated behavior" and had to share a phone number with Twitter to regain access.

"Twitter's tools are apolitical, and we enforce our rules without political bias", the social network has said in response. "The hashtag "#TwitterLockOut" was trending in the USA, because thousands of accounts were tweeting about it.

Twitter and Facebook had faced criticism from United States lawmakers earlier in the year for not having taken the problem seriously enough.

Some fake accounts have been traced to Russian-backed agents that the US government says are working to sow political discord.

Twitter, along with other social networks, were at the center of investigations for allegedly allowing Russian hackers to sway the electorate during the 2016 U.S. elections on its platform. Researchers estimate as many as 15% of accounts could be fake. An organization that tracks Kremlin-backed Twitter accounts - the Alliance for Securing Democracy - has said such influence operations are still active and are targeting sensitive national issues, such as gun control after last week's Florida school shooting. Even Ajit Pai, the chair of the Federal Communications Commission, has said the service discriminates against conservatives.

Another company, privately held online publisher Medium, recently removed accounts belonging to far-right USA commentators including Mike Cernovich, who said on his Twitter account on Wednesday that Medium was acting unlawfully.

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