Published: Fri, October 19, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Twitter has released more than 10 million tweets linked to election interference

Twitter has released more than 10 million tweets linked to election interference

Twitter yesterday released a huge cache of pictures, videos and tweets related to "potentially state-backed information operations". Twitter says the earliest activity it found on its service from these accounts dates back to 2009.

The data is linked to thousands of accounts thought to originate from a Russian "troll factory" known as the Internet Research Agency and Iran.

Twitter had already made public the existence of tweets it believes to be the product of foreign misinformation campaigns, but the release of the tweets themselves on Wednesday will allow researchers to learn much more about Russian Federation and Iran's disinformation efforts on Twitter since 2016. "For our part, we are committed to understanding how bad-faith actors use our services".

"We are making this data available with the goal of encouraging open research and investigation of these behaviors from researchers and academics around the world", Twitter said in a statement on its "elections integrity" site.

From more than 4,500 suspect accounts, 3,841 came from Russian Federation and 770 from Iran. "On many occasions, they pushed both sides of divisive issues", the Atlantic Council wrote. "The Russian troll farm posted significantly more in Russian than in English, especially in late 2014 until early 2015, when Russia was fighting an undeclared war in Ukraine and facing anti-corruption demonstrations at home", DFRLab senior fellow Ben Nimmo said. "The Russian operation's subsequent use of English-language posting showed how a capability designed for domestic influence could be turned overseas". In January, the company notified about 1.4 million users that they had interacted with Russia-linked accounts during the election or had followed those accounts at the time they were suspended.

Their apparent mission was to flood American social media with controversial material to galvanize political hostilities ahead of the 2016 election.

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