Citing rules against gaming its website, Twitter is suspending 70 accounts that have been posting content in support of US presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg, says a Friday report in The Los Angeles Times.
"We have taken enforcement action on a group of accounts for violating our rules against platform manipulation and spam," a Twitter spokesperson confirmed on Saturday.
The Bloomberg campaign has been paying people $2,500 a month to promote the candidate through weekly text messages and daily posts on their personal social media pages, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week. The effort involves an app called Outvote, which lets these "deputy field organizers" publish campaign materials on social sites and send pre-written texts, the Journal said.
The LA Times said Friday that pro-Bloomberg Twitter posts it reviewed from various accounts often used the same text, images, links and hashtags. But Twitter's rules prohibit "amplifying conversations" by "creating multiple accounts to post duplicative content" or "coordinating with or compensating others" to engage in such amplification.
Some of the pro-Bloomberg accounts will be permanently suspended and others will be challenged to verify ownership.
A spokesperson for the Bloomberg campaign said the tweets weren't meant to trick anybody.
"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," Sabrina Singh, senior national spokesperson for the Bloomberg campaign, said in an emailed statement. "Through Outvote content is shared by staffers and volunteers to their network of friends and family and was not intended to mislead anyone."
With the 2020 US presidential election approaching, concerns about political messaging on social media have come to the fore. Looking to grab voters' attention, candidates have turned to internet influencers and social accounts with large followings to spread the word about their campaigns. But regulations governing political advertising haven't necessarily kept up with the social media moment, and worries have arisen about transparency and other issues.
CNET's Queenie Wong contributed to this report.