This week, Twitter placed bans on more than hundred accounts on its platform which were using the hashtag ‘#IStandWithPutin’. This usage of this hashtag came in violation of the policy of the social media platform, “manipulation and spam policy.” The news was first reported by NBC.
The report from NBC mentioned that Twitter initiated the removal of these for taking part in “coordinated inauthentic behaviour.” This came under notice following many of these tweets going viral mysteriously. What came as a shock was that none of the accounts the tweets came from were trending on the platform. They had relatively fewer followers and their display pictures on the profiles were in forms of stock imagery.
As of now, Twitter has not been seen to respond to any one of the requests made for a comment on the situation. However, the company clarified that that the accounts which are using the hashtag are still under investigation. Twitter made the clarification in a statement given on Friday, March 4.
The particular tweets using the hashtag were first noticed by one Owen Jones. An assistant professor at Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Qatar, Jones teaches Middle East Studies and digital humanities at the institution. He commented that he identified many of these accounts showcasing activity which were inauthentic in nature and “astroturfing.”