Twitter takes down fake antifa account linked to white nationalist group

Twitter takes down fake antifa account linked to white nationalist group
© DENIS CHARLET/AFP via Getty Images

Twitter said Monday that it had taken action to identify and remove an account claiming to be affiliated with antifa, shorthand for anti-fascists, that was actually set up by a white nationalist group.

Axios and NBC News reported that the account, @ANTIFA_US, was set up by the right-wing white supremacist Identity Evropa group and therefore fell under the platform's policy against fake accounts.

The company said in a statement to the news outlets that it was taking action to remove spam accounts working to spread misinformation after the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis man whose death in police custody has touched off demonstrations in cities across the U.S. A police officer seen kneeling on Floyd's neck for several minutes before his death has been fired and charged in the case.

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"This account violated our platform manipulation and spam policy, specifically the creation of fake accounts," a Twitter official told Axios. "We took action after the account sent a Tweet inciting violence and broke the Twitter Rules."

"We're taking action proactively on any coordinated attempts to disrupt the public conversation around this issue," a spokesperson told NBC, pointing to a trending topic, #dcblackout, that claimed cell service and other communications were disrupted in the hours following the first protest in Washington, D.C.

A request for further comment from The Hill was not immediately returned.

Twitter routinely bans fake accounts on its platform, and has been under pressure in recent months from activists to do more about tweets from politicians, particularly President TrumpDonald John TrumpSecret Service members who helped organize Pence Arizona trip test positive for COVID-19: report Trump administration planning pandemic office at the State Department: report Iran releases photo of damaged nuclear fuel production site: report MORE, that contain misinformation.

The platform recently put a warning on one of Trump's tweets about the protests that it said "glorified violence" against the protesters after Trump threatened to do more to contain the demonstrations.

“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim WalzTimothy (Tim) James WalzMinnesota lawmakers blast pharmaceutical industry lawsuit over insulin affordability law Judge in George Floyd case tells attorneys, officials, family to limit public statements Internal watchdog investigating if Air Force improperly used plane to surveil protests: report MORE and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” the president tweeted in a message later flagged by Twitter., adding: Thank you!”

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Trump said in a tweet on Sunday that the U.S. would designate antifa as a "Terrorist Organization."

But his tweet has raised questions, since only foreign groups can be formally designed as "terrorists" under the law. Antifa is also a term used generally for people who loosely share an anti-authoritarian ideology instead of a formal group, and beliefs are protected under the First Amendment.