Twitter users ‘interacted with Russian-backed trolls’

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Twitter has sent out notices to nearly 1.4 million users about ‘interactions’ with accounts said to be linked to the Russian government, it was reported on Wednesday.

The social media giant said it has reached out to the users after it found they had communicated with accounts associated with ‘a Russian government-linked organization known as the Internet Research Agency.’

The news was first reported by NBC News.

Twitter accounts by alleged ‘bot’ accounts backed by Russian hackers who tried to sway public opinion during the 2016 presidential elections has been a hotly discussed topic, particularly among lawmakers.

Last week it was revealed that Russia-linked Twitter bots retweeted Donald Trump roughly 500,000 times in the five weeks leading up to the 2016 Presidential election.

Twitter has sent out notices to nearly 1.4 million users about ‘interactions’ with accounts said to be linked to the Russian government, it was reported on Wednesday

Twitter has sent out notices to nearly 1.4 million users about ‘interactions’ with accounts said to be linked to the Russian government, it was reported on Wednesday

Twitter told the Senate Judiciary Committee that 50,000 automated accounts had ties to Russia and sent more than 2million election-related tweets between September 1 and November 15, 2016, CNN Money reported. 

The bots retweeted Trump roughly 10 times more often than they did Hillary Clinton, according to Twitter’s written statement, delivered to Congress on January 19.  

These accounted for 4.25 per cent of all of the retweets then-candidate Trump received during that period.

Those accounts were said to have represented ‘a very small amount of the overall activity’ on Twitter during those critical months. 

Last week it was revealed that Russia -linked Twitter bots retweeted Donald Trump roughly 500,000 times in the five weeks leading up to the 2016 Presidential election. Trump is seen above giving a thumbs up in New York after winning the election on November 9, 2016

Last week it was revealed that Russia -linked Twitter bots retweeted Donald Trump roughly 500,000 times in the five weeks leading up to the 2016 Presidential election. Trump is seen above giving a thumbs up in New York after winning the election on November 9, 2016

Last week it was revealed that Russia -linked Twitter bots retweeted Donald Trump roughly 500,000 times in the five weeks leading up to the 2016 Presidential election. Trump is seen above giving a thumbs up in New York after winning the election on November 9, 2016

In total 2.1million tweets were sent by the bots, and those were just one per cent of the election-related tweets on Twitter at the time, the company said. 

Twitter, Google and Facebook each testified in front of Congress at the end of 2017  – giving data on Kremlin-linked efforts to use social media to influence the 2016 election.

In addition to looking at how the bots were used to push Trump’s tweets, Twitter also looked at how the bots helped to spread content from ‘Russian-linked accounts,’ such as the Wikileaks page, according to CNN.

In the 10-week period leading up to the election, Twitter said the 50,000 automated accounts retweeted Wikileaks roughly 200,000 times. 

When the bots retweeted the same things at such high volume – it created talking points that appeared to have much more support than they actually did. 

For example, after hacked emails from Hillary’s campaign chair John Podesta were published by Wikileaks in October 2016 – Twitter users started using #PodestaEmails. 

Russia-linked Twitter bots were responsible for roughly five percent of all of the tweets with that hashtag, Twitter said. 

The bots retweeted Trump roughly 10 times more often than they did Hillary Clinton , according to Twitter's written statement, delivered to Congress on January 19

The bots retweeted Trump roughly 10 times more often than they did Hillary Clinton , according to Twitter's written statement, delivered to Congress on January 19

The bots retweeted Trump roughly 10 times more often than they did Hillary Clinton , according to Twitter’s written statement, delivered to Congress on January 19

Twitter determined that certain accounts were linked to Russia by examining their phone carrier or email address, checking if the user’s name had ‘a significant number of Cyrillic characters, and looking at if the account was logged in from a Russian IP address. 

It’s likely that the company didn’t identify all of the Russia-linked bots, as 12 per cent of all accounts hide their location. 

That means the number of accounts that retweeted President Trump in the lead up to the election, or that retweeted Russian-linked accounts, is likely higher.

Additionally, those 50,000 bots are in addition to 3,814 accounts being run by the Internet Research Agency. 

The Internet Research Agency is a Russian government-linked group whose purpose is to spread fake news which was based in St Petersburg. 

Many of its accounts were designed to look like they were being run by Americans, and often gained tens of thousands of followers, according to CNN.  





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