Jan. 20 (UPI) — Twitter plans to inform nearly 700,000 people they interacted with accounts linked to the Russian government, the social media giant said.
The social media giant said the Internet Research Agency, a Russian government-linked organization, was “connected to a propaganda effort” that included meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“We are committed to ensuring that Twitter is safe and secure for all users and serves to advance healthy civic discussion and engagement,” Twitter said in a blog post Friday. “Our work on these issues will never be done, and we will continue in our efforts to protect Twitter against bad actors and networks of malicious automation and manipulation.”
Last year, the company said Twitter thousands of accounts followed, retweeted or linked to a tweet with the agency.
“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 said in the blog post. “Because we have already suspended these accounts, the relevant content on Twitter is no longer publicly available.”
Twitter said most “user engagement” was with a very small number of IRA-associated accounts.
Initially, Twitter said there were 200 accounts linked to the group but it told Congress last fall that it had identified 2,752 accounts linked to the group. On Friday, it now says the total is 3,814.
These accounts sent more than 175,000 tweets, the company said.
More than 50,000 Russian-linked automated accounts tweeted about the presidential election.
Current and former members of the Trump administration, as well as a member of President Donald Trump’s family interacted with those accounts, CNN found.
That includes White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, who retweeted one of the IRA-linked accounts, @TEN_GOP. It was designed to look like it was run by the Tennessee Republican Party.
And Donald Trump Jr. also followed the @TEN_GOP account.
Twitter said it now detects and blocks approximately 523,000 suspicious logins daily for being generated through automation. “In December 2017, our systems identified and challenged more than 6.4 million suspicious accounts globally per week — a 60 percent increase in our detection rate from October 2017,” Twitter said.
Twitter said it is “investing further in machine-learning capabilities that help us detect and mitigate the effect on users of fake, coordinated and automated account activity.”
Ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, Twitter said it is “taking steps to improve the security of our platform and stay one step ahead of those who would abuse it.”
That includes plans to “verify major party candidates for all statewide and federal elective offices, and major national party accounts, as a hedge against impersonation.”
Another social media giant, Facebook, launched a tool in its help section that allows users to see if they followed any Facebook or Instagram accounts run by the Russian-linked agency. Facebook has not announced plans to inform users directly.