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Russian group spent $274000 on Twitter ads during USA election


The social media giant spoke about its investigation behind closed doors at a US Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday.

Unlike Facebook, Twitter went into these hearings and voluntarily shared a roundup of three Russia Today news channel accounts that targeted the USA market with ads during the 2016 election.

The House panel's statement said it was seeking "to better understand how Russian Federation used online tools and platforms to sow discord in and influence our election".

Twitter, like Facebook, is being examined for its part in spreading content created or paid for by Russian state-sponsored entities with the desire to influence US politics.

A blog post by Twitter Public Policy detailed the revelations Thursday after three company executives met in closed-door hearings of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, congressional panels investigating reputed Russian involvement in the 2016 USA presidential campaign.

Sen. Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday members want to hear from someone at Facebook during the public hearing who can speak about "what they need to do to identify foreign money that might come in and what procedures, if any, should be put in law to make sure that elections are not intruded by foreign entities".

Twitter said it had identified and deleted 22 accounts directly linked to about 450 fake Facebook accounts tied to Russian Federation.

Together, those three accounts promoted 1,823 tweets in 2016 "that definitely or potentially targeted the US market", Twitter said. All of those accounts have been suspended from Twitter for breaking the rules against spam.

Twitter today "proactively" shared with Congress a "round-up of ads" that Russia's state-run TV network Russia Today (RT) targeted to USA users in 2016.

In a statement this month, Twitter said it "deeply respects the integrity of the election process", and it has worked to combat "bots and other forms of manipulation that violate our Terms of Service".

"These are not meant to be definitive solutions", according to the company. Although there is nothing yet official about it, many experts believe that many of these Twitter and Facebook activities by Russia-linked accounts helped Donald Trump win the election. The company also unearthed an additional 179 related or linked accounts.

Facebook has disclosed that Russians created fake accounts and ads that appeared to be the work of American activists to spread discord during the 2016 presidential election.

The Facebook ads that Russian operatives purchased to try and influence USA voters during the 2016 election highlighted the Black Lives Matter movement and other hot-button, divisive issues, said a person familiar with the situation.

Twitter Vice President for Public Policy Colin Crowell met with staff from the Senate's and House's intelligence committees on Thursday to discuss the company's findings.

Attempts by Russia-linked social media accounts to influence events in the U.S. apparently weren't limited to last year's United States election. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, told reporters he was "disappointed" by the briefing Twitter provided.

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