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Iran accuses Twitter of shutting down legitimate accounts

Twitter should address anti-government bots, Iran's foreign minister says.

German And Iranian Foreign Ministers Discuss Nuclear Agreement
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accuses Twitter of deleting accounts belonging to real people..
Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Iran's government has accused Twitter of closing accounts belonging to "real" Iranians while allowing anti-government bots to flourish.

The charges were leveled Sunday in a series of tweets sent by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif addressed to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. The removal Zarif refers to is presumably related to a recent Twitter crackdown on fake accounts.  

"Hello @Jack. Twitter has shuttered accounts of real Iranians, (including) TV presenters & students, for supposedly being part of an 'influence op,'" Zarif wrote in a tweet.

"How about looking at actual bots in Tirana used to prop up 'regime change' propaganda spewed out of DC? #YouAreBots," he went on to say in the same tweet, referencing Albania's capital.

Twitter and Facebook announced in August they had collectively removed hundreds of inauthentic pages, groups and accounts linked to disinformation campaigns. Twitter specifically said it had suspended 284 accounts with ties to Iran for "coordinated manipulation."

Twitter, Facebook and Google have faced intense scrutiny for their platforms' role in spreading divisive and false news stories in the lead up to the 2016 US presidential election, with lawmakers questioning lawyers representing the companies about what they saw happening during the elections and what they did about it.

Twitter declined to comment.

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