Twitter found more than 50,000 Russia-linked accounts that actively shared election-related material -- and Trump interacted with them hundreds of times

  • Twitter says it found more Russia-linked accounts that shared US election-related material during the 2016 race for the White House.
  • The social-media platform published the analysis on its blog Friday.
  • In addition to other findings, Twitter said it discovered 13,512 accounts engaged in what it believed to be “automated, election-related activity originating out of Russia,” bringing the total number of such accounts to 50,258.
  • These accounts, sometimes referred to as “bots,” played a significant role in the spread of misinformation and propaganda-style messages favouring Donald Trump and criticising his 2016 Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

Twitter posted new information Friday that sheds light on US-election interference activity linked to Russia that was carried out on its platform.

The company said that it found another 13,512 accounts that engaged in what it believed to be “automated, election-related activity originating out of Russia.” That brings the total number of such accounts to 50,258, according to Twitter.

In a blog post published Friday, Twitter said those accounts represented about 0.016% of the total subscribers on the platform at the time, but it emphasised the seriousness of the findings.

“Any such activity represents a challenge to democratic societies everywhere,” Twitter said. “We’re committing to continuing to work on this important issue.”

The potential Russia-linked activity on Twitter is just one wrinkle in the comprehensive and wide-ranging influence campaign that boosted Donald Trump during the 2016 election.

Accounts and bots on Twitter and Facebook engaged in a systematic routine of promoting misinformation and propaganda-style messages – ostensibly to praise Trump and denigrate is then-opponent, Hillary Clinton.

When he was a candidate, Trump’s Twitter account engaged with bots hundreds of times.

His massive following on the platform meant that any questionable content his account retweeted or quote-tweeted further amplified the material. Some of the bot accounts were quickly suspended.

Tech companies received strong criticism for, among other things, the lack of oversight that allowed misinformation to flourish on their social-media platforms.

The most notable among those companies is Facebook, which announced last week that it would tweak its algorithm to promote less content from news organisations and brands, and rank news items based in part on what users deem to be “trustworthy.”

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