Twitter says it exposed nearly 700,000 people to Russian propaganda during US election

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Twitter this evening released a new set of statistics related to its investigation on Russia propaganda efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election, including that 677,775 people were exposed to social media posts from more than 50,000 automated accounts with links to the Russian government. Many of the new accounts uncovered have been traced back to an organization called the the Internet Research Agency, or IRA, with known ties to the Kremlin.

The data was first presented in an incomplete form to the Senate Select Intelligence Committee last November, which held hearings to question Facebook, Google, and Twitter on the role the respective platforms and products played in the Russian effort to help elect President Donald Trump. Twitter says it’s now uncovered more accounts and new information on the wide-reaching Russian cyberintelligence campaign.

Twitter says more than 50,000 Russia-linked accounts reached nearly 700,000 people

“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,” writes Twitter’s public policy division in a blog post published today. “Because we have already suspended these accounts, the relevant content on Twitter is no longer publicly available.”

Twitter says it’s improving its automated detection methods to weed out suspicious accounts, as well as beefing up its security measures to prevent third-party applications from controlling large numbers of bots. Twitter says it identified more than 6.4 million such accounts in the month of December 2017 only using these new methods, a 60 percent increase from just two months prior. The company says it’s also removed more than 220,000 third-party apps responsible for millions of suspicious tweets from accessing its application programming interface to automate tweeting and other behavior on the platform.

Twitter also included a set of some of the tweets users were exposed to that have direct links to the Russian government:

Image: Twitter
Image: Twitter
Image: Twitter

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