Twitter to notify users exposed to Russian propaganda during U.S. elections

January 20, 2018

(Reuters) – Twitter Inc, which is reviewing Russian interference during the 2016 U.S. elections, said on Friday it would notify some of its users whether they were exposed to content generated by a suspected Russian propaganda service.

The company said it would email 677,775 people in the United States who followed, retweeted or liked content from accounts associated with the Internet Research Agency (IRA) during the election.

The IRA is a Russian organization that according to lawmakers and researchers, employs hundreds of people to push pro-Kremlin content under phony social media accounts.

Twitter added that because it has already suspended these accounts, the relevant content is no longer publicly available on its platform.

Twitter executives on Wednesday told U.S. lawmakers that it may notify the users about the Russian propaganda.

The company in September said it had suspended about 200 Russian-linked accounts, and followed it by suspending adverts from media outlets Russia Today and Sputnik in October.

The top Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives intelligence committee on Friday praised Twitter’s move and urged technology companies to keep looking into abuse of their platforms by Russia during the 2016 elections.

“The Committee’s open hearing last November with Twitter, Facebook and Google revealed the extent to which the Russians exploited vulnerabilities inherent in the openness of our society and social media platforms, and it is vital these companies are transparent with users who were likely exposed to Kremlin propaganda and disinformation,” Representative Adam Schiff said in a statement.

Senator Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Senate intelligence panel, echoed this view, tweeting: “I’ve been tough with Twitter on this, but I’m encouraged to see the company beginning to take responsibility and notify its users of Russia’s influence on its platform.”

(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru and Eric Walsh in Washington; Editing by Maju Samuel and Lisa Shumaker)

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