Sept. 29 (UPI) — Social media company Twitter revealed that more than 200 of its user accounts were actually outlets for Russian-linked propaganda.
A blog post by Twitter Public Policy detailed the revelations Thursday after three company executives met in closed-door hearings of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, congressional panels investigating reputed Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.
“Of the roughly 450 [Russian-linked] accounts that Facebook recently shared as a part of their review, we concluded that 22 had corresponding accounts on Twitter,” the blog post said. “All of those identified accounts had already been or immediately were suspended from Twitter for breaking our rules, most for violating our prohibitions against spam. In addition, from those accounts we found an additional 179 related or linked accounts, and took action on the ones we found in violation of our rules. Neither the original accounts shared by Facebook, nor the additional related accounts we identified, were registered as advertisers on Twitter.”
Earlier this month, Facebook said phony accounts linked to the Russian government paid $100,000 for political advertising. Alex Stamos, Facebook chief security officer, said at the time that the majority of the ads focused on “divisive social and political messages,” including immigration, gun control or LGBT issues.
The Twitter post also said that company representatives told the committees that Russia Today, a news service that’s been criticized as a propaganda tool of the Kremlin, spent more than $274,000 on advertising last year. RT paid to promote 1,823 tweets that potentially were directed toward the U.S. market of users, Twitter said.
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., called the Twitter presentation before the committees “deeply disappointing.”
“Their response was frankly inadequate on almost every level. The notion that their work was basically derivative based upon accounts that Facebook had identified showed enormous lack of understanding from the Twitter team of how serious this issue is, the threat it poses to democratic institutions.”
Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Google executives will next attend a Nov. 1 public hearing by both congressional committees to further examine Russian use of the social media platforms in the 2016 campaign.