Russia Investigation: Twitter Banned 200 Fake Accounts But Left Key Details Out

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30 September, 2017

This admission comes as the social media platform hands over information on their possible role in the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race.

A blog post by Twitter said its vice president for public policy, Colin Crowell, met with staff Thursday from two congressional panels investigating Russian interference in the election process.

Facebook wasn't the only social network to be hijacked by Russian operatives, as Twitter has found roughly 200 accounts tied to the same Russian sources that bought ads on Facebook to manipulate and undermine the USA 2016 presidential elections. All of those accounts have been suspended from Twitter for breaking the rules against spam. The company discovered 22 accounts and found 179 Twitter accounts linked. The Twitter accounts, which were taken down over the last month, were linked to 470 accounts and pages that Facebook traced to the International Research Agency, a Russian troll farm.

Facebook said earlier this month that an internal investigation had found that groups with ties to Russian Federation had spent $100,000 on ads created to influence the attitudes of USA voters in the last Presidential campaign.

The group bought Facebook ads to reach targeted audiences, promoting political rallies aimed at Muslims, the website reported.

The Twitter post also said that company representatives told the committees that Russia Today, a news service that's been criticized as a propaganda tool of the Kremlin, spent more than $274,000 on advertising a year ago.

That year, RT-affiliated accounts - including @RT_com and @RT_America - promoted 1,823 Tweets, which "definitely or potentially" targeted the USA market, Twitter found.

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Committee member Mark Warner, a Democratic senator from Virginia, said in a press conference after the briefings that Twitter's findings were "inadequate", according to Recode. He called Twitter's response to the alleged Russian meddling "inadequate on nearly every level".

Facebook is part of investigations both houses of Congress and special counsel Robert Mueller are conducting into Russian influence in the 2016 election.

Twitter executives briefed House and Senate investigators on Thursday during a closed-door meeting that lasted several hours.

These findings among others were handed over to the USA government and Twitter said, "This is an ongoing process and we will continue to collaborate with investigators".

Users, lawmakers and technology analysts have long criticised Twitter as too lax in policing fake or abusive accounts.

Twitter also added that Russian Federation and other post-Soviet states have been responsible for the majority of automated and spammy content on the site for many years.

"Russia and other post-Soviet states have been a primary source of automated and spammy content on Twitter for many years", Twitter said.

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