Twitter Gets Called on the Carpet; Joins Russian Investigation

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Twitter joins Facebook in the social media networks with accounts linked to Russia, and in facing Congress over Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election.

Evidence exists that may prove that the Russian influence was even more prevalent on Twitter than it was on Facebook during the election. Between accounts linked with Russia that posed as Americans and large-scale messaging by bot accounts, fake news, and stories promoting articles about Democratic operatives’ emails, gathered by Russian hackers, flooded the social media network.

Twitter has always had a problem with fake accounts. Not only do they not require a real name, but they allow automated accounts or bots. Those bots are often difficult to separate from real accounts.

The Alliance for Securing Democracy, a bipartisan group within the German Marshall Fund, has been tracking 600 accounts since last month. Those accounts are a mix of bots and human users, all linked to Russian influence.

80 news stories were promoted last week; more than 25% of them “had a primary theme of anti-Americanism,” according to the researchers in the Alliance for Securing Democracy. Roughly 15% were anti-Hillary Clinton, claiming she was funding AntiFa protestors. They also claimed she was connected to the 2012 terror attack in Benghazi and criticized Chelsea Clinton’s Twitter use. 11% of the stories promoted claims of wiretapping Paul Manafort, vindicating Trump’s earlier claims that Obama wiretapped him.

Twitter has remained relatively quiet about what it knows regarding Russia’s use of its network. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, wants to know what Twitter knows about fake accounts and what the network has done to find covert Russian actions.

The Committee will hold a public hearing on the matter of Russian influence next month. Twitter, Facebook, and Google are asked to testify on Nov. 1 at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.

 

Source: The New York Times

Image Source: CC BY 2.0/keiyac via Flickr

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