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Trump, offering no evidence, suggests Twitter biased against him

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday accused Twitter Inc of targeting his account on the social media network but did not offer any evidence, and suggested that the company’s actions could be a sign of bias.

Twitter has deleted millions of suspicious accounts after it and other social media services were used in misinformation campaigns attempting to influence voters in the 2016 U.S. presidential race and other elections.

Last week it disclosed it removed some 10 million tweets it thought were the work of Russian and Iranian government-backed influence operations.

“Our focus is on the health of the service, and that includes work to remove fake accounts and those engaging in malicious behavior. Many prominent accounts have seen follower counts drop, but the result is higher confidence that the followers they have are real, engaged people,” Twitter spokesman Brandon Borrman said.

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Trump, an avid user of the online network, has previously criticized Twitter and other technology companies even as he has defended his prolific tweets as allowing him to communicate directly with people to bypass channels such as traditional news media outlets.

Twitter said in a conference call to discuss its quarterly earnings on Thursday that its cleanup effort, which launched in March and calls a “health” initiative, will allow it to grow revenue faster than users for a sustained period.

Shares in Twitter traded flat on Friday.

Earlier this week, Trump’s re-election campaign manager Brad Parscale in an opinion piece on Breitbart said tech companies such as Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google have become incubators of “far-left liberal ideologies” that are doing “everything they can to eradicate conservative ideas and their proponents from the internet.”

Parscale served as Trump’s digital director for his 2016 White House bid, which made significant use of social media.

Trump’s re-election team, however, is planning to circumvent such platforms for his 2020 bid, Politico reported this week, citing four officials involved in the campaign.

“Twitter has removed many people from my account and, more importantly, they have seemingly done something that makes it much harder to join – they have stifled growth to a point where it is obvious to all. A few weeks ago it was a Rocket Ship, now it is a Blimp! Total Bias?” Trump wrote in a tweet.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey and Tim Ahmann; Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Meredith Mazzilli)

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