Over the course of the last several months, we have learned quite a lot about just how much influence Russian operatives working for the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency really had over last year’s election. In fact, many of the accounts created in 2015 and 2016 had still been posting as recently as this month. While Facebook had found thousands of fake accounts pushing fake news in September, Twitter said that they only found 201 accounts themselves.
As both Facebook and Twitter get set to appear in front of multiple committees on Capital Hill this week, both companies have revised their findings, showing just how widespread this Russian social media presence really was. While Facebook stated that as many as 80,000 posts, seen by up to 126 million Americans, were made by accounts connected to Russian operatives, Twitter revised their findings quite a bit as well. Since September they have found an additional 2,551 Russian accounts, bringing their total up to 2,752.
“State-sanctioned manipulation of elections by sophisticated foreign actors is a new challenge for us – and one that we are determined to meet,” Twitter said in written testimony, according to the source.
While Twitter’s findings still pale in comparison to perhaps Facebook’s, I have a feeling that more accounts will continue to be found and suspended in the days, weeks and months ahead. To this very day there are clearly hundreds, if not thousands of additional accounts which appear to be set up in order to breed discourse in American politics. Just by being an avid Twitter user myself I am able to see that new pro-Trump, anti-Clinton trending hashtags and phrases usually begin during the hours of 11:30 PM and 4:30 AM EST. This is usually when those in the US are sleeping, but of course it’s the heart of the day in and around Moscow.
Clearly both Twitter and Facebook need to do more in order to rid their services of fake Russian accounts. The only question is, will they? Let’s hear your thoughts on this story in the comments section below.