Twitter suspends Chinese religious group accounts

San Francisco: Ahead of Israel’s upcoming national elections, micro-blogging site Twitter has suspended nearly 600 suspicious Hebrew-language accounts run by a controversial Chinese religious group.

The accounts suspended were amplifying political messages for right-wing politicians and the vast majority of the content, posted behind fake names in Hebrew, focused on religion, BuzzFeed News reported on Sunday.

The controversial religious group has been recognized as Church of Almighty God (CAG) — a Christian sect, banned in China, that believes that Jesus Christ reincarnated as a Chinese woman who is currently living in Queens in the New York City.

The accounts were flagged due to what appeared to be co-ordinated amplification of content, according to a source familiar with how the CAG accounts were brought to Twitter’s attention and asked for anonymity to protect ongoing research, the report said.

However, the micro-blogging platform has chosen not to disclose any details about the CAG-affiliated suspended accounts.

A Twitter spokesperson said that the accounts were suspended due to spam violations, the report noted.

The CAG-affiliated Twitter accounts were among hundreds flagged as suspicious, based on initial work done by Noam Rotem and Yuval Adam, two Israeli researchers who study social media manipulation.

“Roughly 600 accounts have been removed by Twitter as a result of Rotem and Adam’s research, according to the source with knowledge of account removals,” the report added.

It remains unclear exactly why were these CAG accounts from Chinese people of Christian faith spreading mixed political messaging into their activity just days before the Israeli elections commence.

“BuzzFeed News did not identify any Hebrew-language CAG accounts spreading false or misleading information. Given the group’s acrimonious relationship with the Chinese government, its online activity is clearly not state-linked,” the report said.