In a letter sent Wednesday, Congressional Democrats scolded the CEOs of Facebook and Twitter for failing to adequately investigate whether Russian-linked accounts amplified a campaign to release a controversial memo on the FBI’s Russia inquiry.
The memo in question was compiled by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) and it alleges the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s connection to President Donald Trump’s campaign is politically motivated. #ReleaseTheMemo started trending on Twitter as Trump supporters demanded the memo be declassified; Congressional Republicans voted to do just that in a rare maneuver. Whether the memo will be released is now up to Trump. The intelligence community has expressed “grave concerns” about the memo’s release.
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 31, 2018
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) initially contacted Facebook and Twitter after a site operated by The Alliance for Securing Democracy reported a 233,000 percent spike in the frequency of Twitter accounts promoting #ReleaseTheMemo over a 48-hour period. The organization runs Hamilton 68, a website dedicated to tracking Russian-linked accounts on social media.
Facebook’s answer was brief and largely punted to Twitter, saying “we welcome information about incidents that may have occurred on other platforms — in this case, on Twitter — because it can help us anticipate and understand new and evolving threats.” Facebook said it has shared all relevant information on Russian interference to date with Congress. Twitter’s response detailed some of the changes it has made since the 2016 election. The company said it’s initial investigation did not reveal “any significant activity connected to Russia with respect to Tweets posting original content to this hashtag.”
Feinstein and Schiff were not amused. In the response they sent Wednesday the lawmakers admonished Facebook and Twitter for failing to answer three questions they initially raised: “whether and how many accounts linked to Russian influence operations were involved,” “the frequency and volume of their postings on this topic,” and the number of “legitimate” users exposed to the campaign.
“We are no closer to understanding Russia’s continuing interference in our democratic affairs,” the letter says.
Feinstein and Schiff responded with eight additional questions seeking details and data on the role Russia played in the #ReleaseTheMemo campaign. They asked the companies to respond by Feb. 7.
The letter sent Wednesday was first spotted by Recode.