Twitter says it has followed through on its commitment to Congress by identifying and suspending more than 50,000 automated accounts linked to Russian agents – and alerting 677,775 Twitter users in the U.S. who followed those accounts, or retweeted or liked their postings.
Thousands of those accounts have been found just in the past couple of months.
In today’s update, the company says it’ll enlist machine-learning tools to boost its ability to slap down fake accounts, coordinated tweet campaigns and bots.
The measures were taken to address concerns sparked by the 2016 presidential campaign, during which agents from Russia’s infamous Internet Research Agency and other Russia-linked entities mounted a propaganda effort that boosted GOP candidate Donald Trump.
President Trump and his aides deny any collusion with the Russian influence campaign, which is the subject of two congressional investigations as well as a probe by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Twitter, Facebook and Google acknowledged during congressional hearings in October that their online platforms were subverted by Russian agents, and they vowed to address the problem. Today’s blog posting from Twitter provided an update on its efforts.
Twitter said it has identified 3,814 accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency, or IRA, which enlisted Russians to flood social media with postings during the campaign. About 8.4 percent of the 175,993 tweets posted from those accounts were election-related, Twitter said.
According to the company, 1,062 of those accounts were found since the congressional hearings, two and a half months ago.
Twitter turned up a total of 50,258 automated accounts that have been linked to Russia and tweeted election-related content, including 13,512 accounts identified since the hearings.
All those bots represented only 0.016 percent of the total Twitter accounts at the time. “However, any such activity represents a challenge to democratic societies everywhere, and we’re committed to continuing to work on this important issue,” Twitter said.
In preparation for the 2018 midterm congressional elections, Twitter said it would verify major-party candidates for all statewide and federal elective offices, and major national party accounts, “as a hedge against impersonation.”
The company says it has also set up a process for rapidly escalating any election-related issues that arise, and will upgrade its anti-spam technology to address election-related bot networks.