Twitter and Facebook suspended accounts operated by the pro-Trump college group Turning Point Action for “spam” and “platform manipulation” on Tuesday, The Washington Post reports.
The group, an affiliate of Turning Point USA, paid teenagers, some of them minors, to pump out thousands of social media posts “with the same or similar language posted repeatedly across social media,” according to the report.
Though the teens appeared to use their own accounts, they did not disclose their relationship with the pro-Trump group.
The group pumped out thousands of posts across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. A Washington Post analysis identified nearly 4,500 tweets with identical content.
Social media giants crack down:
After the report Twitter said on Tuesday that it suspended 20 accounts involved in the effort for “platform manipulation and spam.”
Facebook said it has also removed some accounts and is continuing to investigate.
The group is run by Charlie Kirk, who spoke at the Republican National Convention last month.
The group refuted the report.
“This is sincere political activism conducted by real people who passionately hold the beliefs they describe online, not an anonymous troll farm in Russia,” field director Austin Smith said in a statement to the Post.
Effort compared to “troll farm”
Some tech experts compared the effort to the “troll farm” that drew headlines in the 2016 campaign.
“In 2016, there were Macedonian teenagers interfering in the election by running a troll farm and writing salacious articles for money,” Graham Brookie, the director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, told the Post. “In this election, the troll farm is in Phoenix.”
He added that the effort shows “that the scale and scope of domestic disinformation is far greater than anything a foreign adversary could do to us.”