Twitter believes it was manipulated by Russian agents interfering in US elections

29 Sep 2017

Image: Georgy Dzyura/Shutterstock

The bear was also among the pigeons, it seems.

Facebook wasn’t the only social network to be hijacked by Russian operatives, as Twitter has found roughly 200 accounts tied to the same Russian sources that bought ads on Facebook to manipulate and undermine the US 2016 presidential elections.

‘Twitter deeply respects the integrity of the election process, which is a cornerstone for all democracies’

Yesterday (28 September), Twitter informed congressional investigators that it checked its own database and found around 200 accounts tied to nefarious activities.

Days after Facebook revealed that 470 Russian-linked accounts had bought 3,000 ads used to manipulate the US elections or stoke racial or religious discord, Twitter investigated if there were any links with accounts on its own network.

It found at least 22 Twitter accounts that matched, with links to 179 others.

At the heart of the issue is the alleged Russian interference in the US democratic process, but also alleged collusion between the Trump camp and Russian benefactors.

Trumpian tensions, scattered feathers

US president Donald Trump took umbrage with Facebook’s decision to share data with congressional investigators, saying the social network “was always anti-Trump”.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg rejected Trump’s tirade, adding that he regretted his initial dismissal of how social media platforms such as Facebook were used as tools of misinformation and fake news.

For its part, Twitter is supporting Facebook’s drive for better clarity on the issue.

“Twitter deeply respects the integrity of the election process, which is a cornerstone for all democracies,” the company said.

“We will continue to strengthen Twitter against attempted manipulation, including malicious automated accounts and spam, as well as other activities that violate our terms of service.

“Twitter is in dialogue with congressional committees with respect to investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 US election.

“Today, Twitter vice-president for public policy, Colin Crowell, met with staff from Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to discuss these issues. This is an ongoing process and we will continue to collaborate with investigators.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years