The social media giant is taking action against a network of accounts that breached the platform’s spam and tampering rules.
Twitter said it had suspended a number of accounts that it claimed were owned by black supporters of President Donald Trump and his campaign for re-election, saying the accounts had violated their rules on spam and tampering with the platform.
“Our teams are working hard to investigate this activity and will take action in line with the Twitter Rules if the Tweets are found to be in violation,” a spokeswoman for the social media company said on Tuesday.
Darren Linville, a research disinformation in social media at Clemson University, who said he has been tracking accounts since Saturday, has found more than two dozen accounts that collectively contain 265,000 retweets or mentions on Twitter.
He said the accounts ranged in size, but some had gained tens of thousands of followers.
A review of some suspended accounts showed that they often use pictures of real people that do not match their names and post identical language in their messages, including the phrase: “YES IM BLACK AND IM VOTING FOR TRUMP !!!”
Some attracted thousands of followers before they were suspended. Accounts sometimes claim to be owned by military veterans or law enforcement members.
Linville said that some accounts used photos of American men of black descent that appeared in news articles. Some have used identical images of Trump as a header.
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on the investigation first reported by The Washington Post.
Most of the accounts were created in 2017 but have become more active in the past two months, Linville told Reuters news agency in a phone interview.
He said all the accounts he was tracking on the group are now suspended by Twitter, but the damage is already done.
“It doesn’t matter if Twitter shut you down within four days, it really did take its toll,” Linville said.
Twitter declined to respond to Reuters’ questions about the origin of the accounts.