Twitter Blocks Over 200 Russia-Linked Accounts

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01 October, 2017

The news follows similar disclosures from Facebook earlier this month, and Twitter's meeting in Washington comes as Congress is pursuing its investigation into how Russians may have used social media platforms to interfere in the 2016 election cycle.

The leaders of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee said the panel would hold an open hearing next month with representatives from unnamed technology companies in an effort to "better understand how Russian Federation used online tools and platforms to sow discord in and influence our election".

Facebook has been under the spotlight for its role in Russia's United States election interference for a long time, so the social network might be relieved to find it's now Twitter's turn to come under scrutiny.

A blog post by Twitter said its vice-president for public policy, Colin Crowell, met with staff on Thursday from two congressional panels investigating Russian interference in the election process.

Twitter has not made details about the accounts public.

Using the approximately 450 accounts that Facebook shared as part of its own review, Twitter says it found 201 corresponding accounts on its own service. RT accounts spent $274,100 on US -targeted Twitter ads in 2016, promoting 1,823 tweets about news stories towards users who follow of mainstream media accounts. All of those accounts have been suspended from Twitter for breaking the rules against spam.

Twitter disclosed that it has discovered about 200 suspicious Russian accounts and Media Group that bought advertisement targeted at USA audiences during the election.

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"We are concerned about violations of our Terms of Service and U.S. law with respect to interference in the exercise of voting rights", Twitter said in statement following the Capitol meeting.

"We know there is a huge appetite for more transparency into how Twitter fights bots and manipulative networks", the post said.

Twitter representatives will appear at a hearing with the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, a person familiar with the matter told Business Insider.

"The effort that appears to be put forward - that it was mostly derivative, based upon the roughly 450 accounts that Facebook identified and then simply searching more about those specific accounts - either shows a unwillingness to take this threat seriously or a complete lack of fulsome effort", he said.

Democratic Senator Mark Warner called Twitter's presentation "deeply disappointing" and "inadequate". Moscow denies any such activity.

But Facebook recently found 470 accounts and more than 3,000 ads that likely have ties to Russian Federation.

Unlike on Facebook, Twitter said the accounts it identified were not registered as advertisers.


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