Conservative Twitter users are fuming Wednesday after the social media company purged suspected malicious bots – the same automated accounts Russian agents are accused of using to wage an unprecedented propaganda campaign to help Donald Trump win the election.
The purge comes amid mounting pressure from lawmakers calling on social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, to eliminate fake accounts that peddle fake news.
Far-right Twitter users vented, under the trending hashtag, #TwitttertLockOut, that they lost hundreds and even thousands of followers and accused the social media giant of waging a leftist purge to silence conservatives and Trump supporters.
“The Words of Day Are ‘Twitter Purge’ On Tuesday Night, Most of Us Lost Thousand of Followers. As #Deplorables  & #Trump  Supporters, ‘We Must Help Each Other,’” a Trump supporter tweeted. “Lets Follow & Follow Back Everyday. The #Trump  Agenda Must Be Pushed Forward.#TwitterLockOut .”
The Words of Day Are “Twitter Purge” On Tuesday Night, Most of Us Lost Thousand of Followers. As #Deplorables  & #Trump  Supporters, We Must Help Each Other. Lets Follow & Follow Back Everyday. The #Trump  Agenda Must Be Pushed Forward.#TwitterLockOut  pic.twitter.com/PhblsWGiEl 
— Kevin W (@kwilli1046) February 21, 2018 
In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, Twitter responded that its “tools are apolitical” and that it periodically culls accounts suspected of being fake.
“As part of our ongoing work in safety, we identify suspicious account behaviors that indicate automated activity or violations of our policies around having multiple accounts, or abuse,” Twitter’s statement said. “We also take action on any accounts we find that violate our terms of service, including asking account owners to confirm a phone number so we can confirm a human is behind it. That’s why some people may be experiencing suspensions or locks.”
Twitter didn’t indicate how many suspicious users were removed.
Thirteen Russians were charged last week on charges of using bots and social media advertising as part of an unprecedented propaganda campaign to help Trump get elected. Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to spread disinformation.