Twitter suspends group of pro-Bloomberg accounts over 'platform manipulation'

By Elizabeth Culliford
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Twitter suspends group of pro-Bloomberg accounts over 'platform manipulation'

FILE PHOTO: The Twitter logo displayed on a screen on the floor of the NYSE

By Elizabeth Culliford

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Twitter Inc on Friday said it had started suspending and restricting dozens of accounts posting content promoting U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg.

"We took enforcement action on about 70 accounts, which includes a combination of permanent suspensions and account challenges to verify ownership," a Twitter spokeswoman said in a statement to Reuters.

The action was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

Twitter said the accounts violated its platform manipulation and spam policy, which prohibits coordination among accounts to amplify or disrupt conversation by using multiple accounts.

This can refer to creating several accounts to post duplicative content but also includes "coordinating with or compensating others to engage in artificial engagement or amplification, even if the people involved use only one account."

"We ask that all of our deputy field organizers identify themselves as working on behalf of the Mike Bloomberg 2020 campaign on their social media accounts," said Sabrina Singh, a Bloomberg campaign spokeswoman, adding that content "shared by staffers and volunteers to their network of friends and family" was "not intended to mislead anyone."

The billionaire candidate's campaign, which has been pouring unparalleled amounts of money into an online advertising campaign, is also hiring hundreds of digital organizers to support the candidate, including by pushing content to their own social media channels.

The Wall Street Journal reported that these organizers in California receive $2,500 a month to promote Bloomberg's candidacy through actions such as posting on social media to their own networks.

This month, a paid partnership between the former New York mayor's campaign and popular Instagram meme accounts pushed Facebook Inc to announce it was allowing U.S.-based political candidates to run branded or sponsored content on its social networking platforms.


(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford; Additional reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in New York; Editing by Gerry Doyle and Franklin Paul)