Tech

Twitter Cracks Down on Arizona Audit Accounts Promoting Misinformation

Twitter Cracks Down on Arizona Audit Accounts Promoting Misinformation
Twitter


Twitter has begun to crack down on the multitude of accounts championing the Arizona Senate’s so-called election “audit.”

The platform suspended at least nine audit-related accounts on Tuesday, including @ArizonaAudit, which had called itself the “official account” for the ballot review. Over the last few months, the accounts have attracted major followings, giving the audit's theatrics and election fraud conspiracies an increasingly wide audience. In a statement to Buzzfeed News late Tuesday, Twitter said the accounts were "permanently suspended for violating the Twitter rules on platform manipulation and spam."

Since April, when ballots arrived at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum and the Senate's partisan review of the 2020 election results began, the @ArizonaAudit Twitter has served as a mouthpiece for the recount, often providing behind-the-scenes commentary on the review. Though it is supposedly an official account for the audit's Senate liaison, Senate Republicans have repeatedly refused to identify who, exactly, is running it. Over the last several months, as the account continually tweeted that “the audit continues!” and began referring to Secretary of State Katie Hobbs as “Kooky Katie,” it amassed nearly 100,000 followers.

But @ArizonaAudit’s content was relatively tame compared to @AuditWarRoom, which was also suspended on Tuesday. That account — which had offshoots pushing for ballot counts in Georgia and Pennsylvania — regularly harassed journalists covering the ballot count, and lambasted “slimy” Maricopa County supervisors. The other state-specific "War Room" accounts were also banned, as was the account for Voices and Votes, a nonprofit run by OAN host Christina Bobb that raised more than $140,000 for the audit.


The move has, expectedly, unleashed histrionics from some of Arizona’s Republican lawmakers and other fervent supports of the audit. A Newsmax contributor likened the suspensions to “the purge.” Kelli Ward, Arizona’s GOP chair, decried it as “censorship” (she said the same thing a year ago, when Twitter temporarily suspended her account for sharing videos that claimed, falsely, that hydroxychloroquine would cure Covid).

“I will be next,” wrote Wendy Rogers, a freshman senator and ardent audit supporter, whose views often border on the extreme. She urged followers to use platforms more tolerant of misinformation — like Telegram — and, in further posts, lamented the power of “tech overlords” and “tyrannical clowns.”

The move is by far the most serious action Twitter has taken to combat the cesspool of misinformation around Arizona’s controversial ballot count that has festered on its platform. But it’s still a small step: Even a cursory search for the audit on Twitter still produces conspiratorial Tweets about fraudulent votes and deleted evidence, which are propped up by fringe media outlets like OAN.

The audit, meanwhile, continues on — without its Twitter account, and without its official Senate liaison, Ken Bennett, who was shut out from the recount last week. And for now, at least, you can still find @AuditWarRoom on Instagram.
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Katya Schwenk is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. She previously reported for VTDigger and the Indypendent.
Contact: Katya Schwenk