Twitter Hosted Accounts Tied to Russians Spreading Fake News

  • The Alliance for Securing Democracy monitors 600 accounts
  • More than 25% of stories examined deemed anti-American

Twitter Inc., like Facebook Inc. before it, is attracting scrutiny for letting its platform be used by Russian groups seeking to sow political disinformation. 

Just days before Twitter officials were due to brief lawmakers on Capitol Hill Thursday, about 600 accounts linked to Russian influence operations were active on the platform, according to a report by a policy research group.

The Alliance for Securing Democracy, a bipartisan initiative of the Washington-based German Marshall Fund, examined 80 stories last week promoted by those accounts and found that more than 25 percent had “a primary theme of Anti-Americanism.” About 15 percent were critical of Hillary Clinton, with themes ranging from tying her to the deadly terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012, to falsely accusing her of funding anti-fascist protesters and discussion of her daughter’s use of Twitter.

Nine stories focused on wiretapping and the federal investigation into Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, and most of those stories made an effort to vindicate Trump’s widely dismissed claims that former President Barack Obama bugged him.

Twitter contends that tweets from “engaged citizens” and journalists will counteract the falsely disseminated information. However, the size and scale of the behavior by Russia-related Twitter accounts is formidable.

Facebook met with staff earlier this month and it’s invited along with Twitter and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, to appear at public hearings later this fall.

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