Iran accuses Twitter of shutting down legitimate accounts

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

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
Expertise I have more than 30 years' experience in journalism in the heart of the Silicon Valley.
Steven Musil
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.

Lizzo is the latest celeb to take a break from Twitter

See all photos
Watch this: Facebook and Twitter on Capitol Hill

Cambridge Analytica: Everything you need to know about Facebook's data mining scandal.

iHate: CNET looks at how intolerance is taking over the internet.