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Twitter shuts down Russian accounts




The social media site Twitter confirmed that Russian operatives used its platform to spread fake news.

According to the Washington Post, Twitter shut down 201 accounts connected with the same operatives who purchased misleading ads on Facebook. The company also confirmed news site RT spent $274,100 on ads during the 2016 election.

Some legislators believe Twitter has not gone nearly far enough and were concerned by what they believe to be a lack of awareness among the company’s employees.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) is one legislator who thinks Twitter should be doing more. He called the company’s presentation to the Senate Intelligence Committee “deeply disappointing” and “inadequate on every level.”

Legislators have been investigating how Russian strategists used platforms like Twitter, Google, and Facebook to heighten discord and spread misinformation during the presidential election. Some legislators have even suggested more stringent regulations are needed.

The operatives bought ads for groups like Black Lives Matter, as well as ads that showed Muslims supporting Hillary Clinton. The ads were shown to users in cities that had been the site of BLM protests, or users who appeared to fear Muslims.

Representatives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter have been asked to testify in a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on November 1.

The suspended Twitter accounts were linked with Facebook accounts and pages connected to Russian troll-farm Internet Research Agency.

Legislators criticized Twitter for relying solely on data received from Facebook during its investigation. Rep. Alan B. Schiff (D-Ca.), the ranking minority member of the House Intelligence Committee, questioned whether Twitter was even capable of properly investigating Russian abuse of their platform.

In a statement, Twitter said it was cooperating with the government investigation and was committed to improving its ability to detect willful manipulation.

According to Sunlight Foundation deputy directory Alexander B. Howard, Russian operatives have been using Twitter for years.

Outrage over Silicon Valley’s ineffectual self-policing has given legislators an appetite for regulation. Historically, the government has been very hands-off in regulating tech businesses.

However, Warner and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) have created a bill that would create transparency requirements for political ads that are similar to the ones required for television ads.

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