Twitter admits Russian propaganda more widespread than initially reported

Twitter has identified an additional 1,062 accounts linked to the Russian agency accused of meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the company announced Friday night. In ablog post, Twitter said it has suspended all of the accounts for violating the site’s terms of service and has handed over the accounts to Congress.

The social network said it had identified 3,814 accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), the Russian troll farm, CNET reports. Ahead of Congressional hearings in October, Twitter initially said it had found roughly 2,700 accounts affiliated with the election interference.

Twitter had previously said automated accounts were responsible for 1.4 million election-related tweets that received 288 million views.

Twitter said it will email 677,775 users in the U.S. who liked or retweeted messages from Russian-linked accounts to let them know the accounts had spread misinformation or divisive messages, CNET reports.

Since the company began its investigation, it said it found a total of 3,814 IRA-linked accounts that sent approximately 175,993 tweets and said 8.4 percent of the tweets were related to the election in the time period they investigated. Twitter also found 13,512 Russian-linked bots, or automated accounts, making a total of 50,258 automated accounts.

Twitter said it is working to improve its security so it can stay one step ahead of “those who would abuse it.” Twitter shared examples of the tweets sent out from the Russian-linked accounts. One from the handle @Crystal1Johnson featured a default image of a smiling black woman with a tweet that read: “Cops have killed 68 people in 22 days since #Kaepernick started protesting. 68 in 22 days… have no words #KeithLamontScott.”

Ahead of the midterm elections, Twitter said it will verify major candidates for office and major political parties, improve the company’s anti-spam technology and monitor spikes in election conversations that could have been manipulated.

Both Facebook and Twitter have faced criticism from Washington about the way their platforms were used during the 2016 elections. In September, Democratic Sen. Mark Warner called Twitter’s presentation to Congress “deeply disappointing.”

 “The notion that their work was basically derivative, based upon accounts that Facebook had identified, showed [an] enormous lack of understanding from the Twitter team of how serious this issue is, the threat it poses to democratic institutions, and again begs many more questions than they offered,” Warner said.
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