Twitter Inc. said it found another 1,062 accounts linked to the Russian government-backed Internet Research Agency accused of trying to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
The social media company said it’s emailing notifications to 677,775 people in the U.S. who followed one of these accounts or retweeted or liked a tweet from these accounts during the election period, according to a blog post Friday. That’s almost 1 per cent of Twitter’s 69 million monthly active users in the U.S. The new IRA accounts are in addition to 2,752 accounts Twitter found and disclosed last year.
All the IRA-related accounts have been suspended and the company is sharing information about them with congressional investigators who are reviewing potential manipulation in the 2016 election. During the time period Twitter investigated, the 3,814 identified IRA-linked accounts posted 175,993 Tweets, about 8.4 per cent of which were election-related.
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“After the 2016 election, we launched our Information Quality initiative to further develop strategies to detect and prevent bad actors from abusing our platform,” the company said in the post. “We have since made significant improvements, while recognizing that we have more to do as these patterns of activity develop and shift over time.”
Twitter also said its second assessment found another 13,512 Russian-linked automated accounts, for a total of 50,258, that tweeted election-related content during the 10 weeks before the 2016 election. Last year, when Twitter first disclosed the existence of these accounts, the company said the bots were responsible for about 1.4 million automated, election-related tweets.
Lawmakers have sharply criticized the social media companies for taking too long to recognize the seriousness of the Russian attempts to sow discord among U.S. voters. Twitter said that in preparation for the 2018 midterm elections it would verify major party candidates for all statewide and federal offices, with open “lines of communication” to federal and state officials. The company has also banned Russian state media accounts from buying ads and is creating a “transparency centre” to show how much political campaigns spend on advertising, the identity of the organization funding the campaign, and what demographics the ads targeted.
Twitter’s announcement Friday comes after Facebook Inc. said it would show people which Russian propaganda pages or accounts they had followed and liked on the social network.