Twitter & Facebook Purge Accounts Related to PeaceData

Twitter Facebook Banned Government FBI Involvement

Twitter and Facebook purged accounts and pages related to PeaceData, a website that was allegedly a Russian-backed “information campaign.” Twitter and Facebook both took these enforcement actions based on information they received from the United States FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation). Below are exceprts from both of their summaries celebrating cooperation with the FBI (emphasis ours):

We suspended five Twitter accounts for platform manipulation that we can reliably attribute to Russian state actors. […] The accounts purported to be associated with a website called PeaceData, which publishes a range of content about global political issues. At least some of the content published on the website was created by real people who appear to have contributed to PeaceData as freelancers. […] We wish to express our gratitude to the @FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force for their close collaboration and continued support of our work to protect the public conversation at this critical time. […]

– Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) 1 Sep 2020

[…] We removed a small network of 13 Facebook accounts and two Pages linked to individuals associated with past activity by the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA). This activity focused primarily on the US, UK, Algeria and Egypt, in addition to other English-speaking countries and countries in the Middle East and North Africa. We began this investigation based on information about this network’s off-platform activity from the FBI. […]

– Facebook Newsroom, 1 Sep 2020

Twitter reiterated this about a month later when they added the relevant data to their somewhat permissioned archive as part of their “transparency” efforts:

Working collaboratively with industry peers and the FBI, we were made aware of a number of accounts that had potential links to a fake news agency called PeaceData. They were immediately removed from the service and we’ve marked all links to the site as unsafe across the service.

To summarize in a different light: a government agency, that by itself has a history of murdering people, told Twitter and Facebook that a website was bad, and the tech giants, agreeing, proceeded to purge any accounts related to it. This couldn’t possibly be a slippery slope that backfires horribly in the future by leading to the suppression of political dissidents and anti-establishment discourse online.

Sources / Relevant Material

  2. Facebook Newsroom "August 2020 Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Report" (1 Sep 2020)
  3. Twitter Blog "Disclosing networks to our state-linked information operations archive" (8 Oct 2020)
  4. ZDNet "Facebook and Twitter suspend Russian propaganda accounts following FBI tip" by Catalin Cimpanu (1 Sep 2020)