Twitter Released An Update On Its Investigation Into The 2016 Election

Frederick Owens
January 21, 2018

"As previously announced, we identified and suspended a number of accounts that were potentially connected to a propaganda effort by a Russian government-linked organization known as the Internet Research Agency (IRA)", the company said (emphasis is ours).

In December 2017, its systems identified and challenged more than 6.4 million suspicious accounts globally per week - a 60 per cent increase in its detection rate from October 2017. The newly discovered accounts brings the total number of Russian bots to 50,258.

Twitter said that only 8% of tweets made by these accounts were election related, which is actually how IRA was highly successful in making many believe these were real Americans.

The company posted an update Friday on its site about its ongoing review of Russia's attempts to influence the 2016 election using social media accounts that promoted fake news or incendiary memes, after scrutiny by Congress and criticism for failing to stem the tide of misinformation on social media. However, it has notified Congress of its findings and will continue to search for other activity that might have been overlooked. The platform said it found an additional 13,512 additional accounts.

Twitter noted, however, that it won't show users the content they saw, saying that because it has "already suspended these accounts, the relevant content on Twitter is no longer publicly available".

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In a press release, the company announced about the suspension of these accounts.

That Russia tried to use Twitter - and other social networks - to influence the outcome of the United States election is hardly news, but there has been an ongoing investigation trying to determine the scale of the operation.

Example of some of the IRA-bot-promoted content on Twitter. The service now blocks about 523,000 suspicious logins everyday.

Senator Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Senate intelligence panel, echoed this view, tweeting: "I've been tough with Twitter on this, but I'm encouraged to see the company beginning to take responsibility and notify its users of Russia's influence on its platform".

Monje said Twitter had improved its ability to detect and remove "maliciously automated" accounts, and now challenged up to 4 million per week - up from 2 million per week past year.

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