Twitter Provides Evidence Of Russia Meddling

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Russian special forces © Darren Baker, Shutterstock 2012

Publishes data sets of millions of tweets, images and videos from accounts linked to Russia and Iran

Twitter has taken the extraordinary step of publishing data that shows the scale of Russian and Iranian interference in Western society.

It has released into the public domain “all the accounts and related content associated with potential information operations that we have found on our service since 2016.”

Both Twitter and Facebook face severe pressure from European and US lawmakers over the use of internet platforms by foreign countries to attempt to influence local election results.

Russian meddling

Indeed, in August both Twitter and Facebook said that they had removed hundreds of accounts they said were being used to spread fake news.

And last week Facebook said that it had removed 559 pages and 251 accounts because of spam and “sensational political content.”

That came after Facebook in April this year deleted over a hundred accounts linked to a Russian news farm, known as the Internet Research Agency (IRA).

And Twitter is keen not to be left out, after it revealed that it had also tackled content posted on Twitter by the IRA.

“…we have shared examples of these types of content posted on Twitter by the Internet Research Agency (IRA) and provided the public with a direct notice if they interacted with these accounts,” blogged Twitter. “In August, we also disclosed details of another attempted influence campaign we identified as potentially located within Iran.”

“These large datasets comprise 3,841 accounts affiliated with the IRA, originating in Russia, and 770 other accounts, potentially originating in Iran,” the microblogging website said.

“They include more than 10 million Tweets and more than 2 million images, GIFs, videos, and Periscope broadcasts, including the earliest on-Twitter activity from accounts connected with these campaigns, dating back to 2009,” it wrote.

No slowdown

But Twitter also warned that these information operations and co-ordinated inauthentic behaviour “will not cease.”

“For our part, we are committed to understanding how bad-faith actors use our services,” said Twitter. “We will continue to proactively combat nefarious attempts to undermine the integrity of Twitter, while partnering with civil society, government, our industry peers, and researchers to improve our collective understanding of coordinated attempts to interfere in the public conversation.”

Twitter said it was publishing the information to allow for “independent analysis of this activity by researchers”.

It is worth noting that the IRA has been accused by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller of trying to influence the 2016 US presidential elections.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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