Twitter Discovers Russian Bots Attempted To Sow Political Discord

Twitter reveals Russia-backed ads ahead of US election

Twitter said the Russian-backed news site RT, which a US intelligence report said aimed to meddle in the election, bought $274,100 of ads on Twitter previous year.

Colin Crowell, Twitter's vice president for public policy, met with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to divulge what was uncovered.

"This is an ongoing process and we will continue to collaborate with investigators".

"It is important that tech companies collaborate on this because it's nearly certain that any actor trying to misuse Facebook will also be trying to abuse other internet platforms too", he said.

Democratic Senator Mark Warner called Twitter's presentation "deeply disappointing" and "inadequate". While Google is said to be probing the matter it's not clear whether it has already found any suspicious ads or other content after reviewing the details it was given by Facebook.

Twitter disclosed Thursday that it found 201 accounts on its service linked to the Russian actors identified by Facebook. They asked not to be identified discussing a private investigation.

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The comments signalled that the congressional investigations into Russia's use of social media platforms would not ease up. Google, which has seen a slew of companies withdraw ads after they appeared alongside extremist content, said on March 21, 2017 it was introducing new tools to give firms greater control. Twitter said it examined efforts by foreign agents to interfere with the election after Facebook indicated it found 450 accounts that appeared to have been used for this objective.

Users, lawmakers and technology analysts have long criticised Twitter as too lax in policing fake or abusive accounts.

On Thursday, researchers at Oxford University published a study concluding that Twitter bots disseminated misinformation and propaganda at a higher rate in USA battleground states than in noncompetitive states during a 10-day period around Election Day in November. "Twitter is in dialogue with congressional committees with respect to investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 USA election", the micro-blogging platform said in a blog post.

Earlier this month, Facebook representatives said that the social network sold advertisements during the 2016 presidential election to a Russian "troll farm" worth $100,000.

One of the reasons for the inaccuracy, Twitter said, is that just two percent of all tweets contain geolocation data.

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