Over the last month, one of the bigger stories regarding the Trump/Russia Investigation has been Russia’s hands-on approach they took when it came to sharing and advertising content on social media, which promoted division and chaos in the United States. While investigators do not yet know exactly what, if any role, that the Trump Campaign may have played while Russia targeted social media via ad campaigns, Congress as well as Robert Mueller have just begun to figure out what the Russians were trying to do.
Early indications point to Russian operatives posting and then paying to boost those posts on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. These posts often took two sides of an issue in order to sow discourse and create chaos within the United States around the time of the election. Both Facebook and Twitter have testified in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, but news has just broke that both companies may have deleted crucial evidence related to this Russian interference.
Reports indicate that Facebook removed thousands of posts which were shared during the 2016 elections. These posts were linked to Russian accounts after a Columbia University social-media researcher named Jon Albright used the data to further examine what kind of reach Russia had on social media. Facebook has blamed the deleted data on a glitch within their analytics software.
“We identified and fixed a bug in CrowdTangle that allowed users to see cached information from inactive Facebook Pages,” said Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesman.
Meanwhile, Twitter, which may have even played a bigger impact in Russia’s plan to meddle in the 2016 election, also appears to have deleted a bulk of this possibly valuable information they once had. On Twitter, bot accounts had promoted discussion to benefit Trump at the expense of Hillary Clinton, according to investigators. These bot accounts, were run by Russian operatives, but many of these accounts have been deleted. Instead of keeping the data on record, Twitter has a strict policy of deleting any messages which the user deletes within a short period of time.
“Were Twitter a contractor for the FSB,” the Russian intelligence agency involved in the 2016 campaign to meddle in the U.S. election, Thomas Rid, a Strategic Studies professor at Johns Hopkins University stated, “they could not have built a more effective disinformation platform.”
It appears as though investigators are being halted in their tracks because of the lack of history on Twitter’s servers. What could have been a gold mine for evidence is turning out to be an empty treasure box at the bottom of a dark well. Let’s hear your thoughts on this story in the comments section below.