U.K. Committee to Invite Twitter to Face Lawmakers

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Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

U.K. lawmakers are planning to invite representatives from Twitter Inc. to give oral evidence as part of the government’s investigation into Russian influence in the country’s recent elections, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The invitation for Twitter to come and face questions from a parliamentary committee comes alongside a letter written by a senior U.K. politician to the social network’s chief executive officer Jack Dorsey to release examples of postings by Russian-based Twitter accounts regarding U.K. politics.

The U.K. has been increasingly vocal regarding Russian influence in the U.K. elections with Prime Minister Theresa May warning Russian President Vladimir Putin in a speech on Monday that Britain would fight back against attempts to destabilize Western democracy that included “meddling in elections.”

In the U.K., Dorsey was asked for a list of accounts connected to the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency, a pro-Kremlin Russian group. The company said in an emailed statement that it "recognizes that the integrity of the election process itself is integral to the health of a democracy. As such, we will continue to facilitate and support formal investigations by government authorities into election interference as required.”

Greater scrutiny is also happening the U.S., where Twitter’s acting general counsel -- Sean Edgett -- told lawmakers that the company found 2,752 accounts associated with the Internet Research Agency.

The U.K. elections regulator is also looking at whether Russia tried to use social media to illegally influence the Brexit referendum campaign, and is speaking to Facebook Inc. and Twitter about who paid for political advertising in the run-up to the June 2016 EU referendum and the May 2017 general election.

The committee has also asked Facebook to provide it with examples of advertising purchased by Russian-linked accounts, pages set up by Russian-linked profiles and information regarding the targeting of these ads and pages.

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