Oct. 14 (UPI) — Social platform Twitter said it has suspended phony accounts that boast about belonging to Black Americans who enthusiastically support President Donald Trump.
The accounts have been suspended for violating Twitter policies against spam and misinformation, a company spokesperson said.
One account with the name @CopJrCliff, which attracted 24,000 followers and was liked 75,000 times in a matter of days, claimed to be a Pennsylvania police officer and included the message, “Yes, I’m Black and I’m voting for Trump.” It also included a photo of a Black officer with Trump.
The officer in the photo was actually Portland, Ore., police officer Jakhary Jackson, who told The Washington Post he doesn’t have a Twitter account. He sent his driver’s license and social security information to Twitter to prove his identity and the company suspended the account.
Darren Linville, a social media researcher at Clemson University, said a network of other phony accounts with identical language indicating Black support for Trump had generated 265,000 retweets and mentions before the platform’s censors could put a stop to them. It’s a trend experts call “digital blackface.”
“It’s asymmetrical warfare,” Linvill said. “They don’t have to last long. And they are so cheap to produce that you can get a lot of traction without a whole lot of work. Thank you, Twitter.”
A Twitter representative told CNBC it is constantly on the hunt for such fake accounts and suspend them as soon as they are identified.
“Our teams are working diligently to investigate this activity and will take action in line with the Twitter Rules if tweets are found to be in violation,” the company said.
“Presently, we’ve taken action on some tweets and accounts for violations of our policies on platform manipulation and spam.”
Twitter said last week it expanded its civic integrity policy and introduced new prompts and additional warnings to place on questionable tweets.
“We do not allow anyone to use Twitter to manipulate or interfere in elections or other civic processes,” Twitter wrote.
Twitter has even blocked a number of Trump’s own tweets in recent weeks, saying they have contained false or misleading information, including one last weekend in which he claimed to be “immune” from COVID-19.
Trump was hospitalized and under constant medical care for several days this month after he caught the disease.