Twitter finds 200 accounts connected to Russian election influence

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Twitter announced on Thursday that it found 201 accounts on its platform linked to potential Russian interference in the 2016 election on its platform.

The company said that 22 of the accounts were linked to Facebook pages and profiles that Facebook had turned over as a part of its analysis of foreign influence on its social media platform. Twitter noted that it immediately deleted the linked accounts that were not already suspended. 

But it’s not clear how many Twitter accounts not linked to Russian-tied Facebook accounts could also be connected to Russian electors influence.

Twitter said that of the remaining 179 accounts, it “took action on the ones we found in violation of our rules.”

None of the 201 accounts were registered as advertisers on Twitter, according to the company.

Twitter also shared that Russia Today, a Russian propaganda news outlet that distributes content in the U.S. and other countries, had used the platform to buy advertisements targeted to U.S. markets in 2016.  Three RT accounts, @RT_com, @RT_America, and @ActualidadRT, purchased $274,100 ads on Twitter.

The money went towards 1,823 promoted tweets, “directed at followers of mainstream media,” Twitter’s public policy team said.

Twitter met with Senate and House Intelligence Committees on Thursday to brief lawmakers and staff on the company’s findings in regard to potential election interference by foreign actors.

On Thursday, the Senate Intelligence Committee invited Twitter and Google to testify at a public hearing over Russian interference on Nov. 1 sources with knowledge of the matter told The Hill. A Facebook spokesperson confirmed that the social media giant was also invited.

The House is set to hold a similar hearing and wants all three companies to testify there as well, according to a Congressional aide. Both committees say that they want the companies to share more details publicly on the extent of foreign election influence that may have occurred on their platforms.

Twitter says that it will continue to beef up its defense against interference from foreign actors, “including malicious automated accounts and spam, as well as other activities that violate our Terms of Service,” and keep discussing the matter with federal investigators.


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