Twitter Concedes Russian Influence Before US Election Was Greater Than Initially Thought

Getty Images for The New York Times

Getty Images for The New York Times

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".

Monje, along with officials from Facebook and Google-owned YouTube, testified before the committee about how Twitter is combating terror-related content on its platform.

The potential Russia-linked activity on Twitter is just one wrinkle in the comprehensive and wide-ranging influence campaign that boosted Donald Trump during the 2016 election.

"Consistent with our commitment to transparency, we are emailing notifications to 677,775 people in the United States who followed one of these accounts or retweeted or liked a Tweet from these accounts during the election period", Twitter conveniently announced on Friday afternoon, Pacific Time, when basically no one in the West would be paying any attention.

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Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) said in a tweet that he had been tough on Twitter, but was glad to see the company "beginning to take responsibility".

Working with congressional investigators, Twitter is also sharing the account handles found with Congress. In December alone, the site said it flagged 6.4 million accounts as suspicious.

In 2018, Twitter aims to invest further in machine-learning capabilities that help it detect and mitigate the effect on users of fake, coordinated, and automated account activity.

But there are some indications that malicious use of the service continues.

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"We have also provided Congress with the results of our supplemental analysis into activity believed to be automated, election-related activity originating out of Russian Federation during the election period", Twitter said. About 8.4 percent of the 175,993 tweets posted from those accounts were election-related, Twitter said.

White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway retweeted one of the IRA-linked accounts, @TEN_GOP, which was created to look like it was run by the Tennessee Republican Party, just days before the 2016 election. The company is now sending out emails to the 677,000 people who fell for the deception.

"That is patently false". Accounts and bots on Twitter and Facebook engaged in a systematic routine of promoting misinformation and propaganda-style messages - ostensibly to praise Trump and denigrate is then-Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. "The fact that there are thousands of posts that are easily findable is concerning".

Twitter has also revised up the total number of Russia-linked accounts it uncovered since its testimony to Congress in the fall.

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