Twitter, Facebook to Alert Users About Russian Propaganda Content

Twitter plans to notify individual users who were exposed to accounts run by Russians as part of their efforts to intervene in the 2016 election, the company said on Wednesday.

Carlos Monje, Twitter’s director of public policy and philanthropy, told the Senate Commerce Committee during a hearing that his company will be rolling out plans to inform each user in the near future, Forbes reported.

“We will be working to identify and inform individually the users who may have been exposed to the IRA accounts during the election,” Monje told Senator Richard Blumenthal, referencing Russia’s Internet Research Agency.

The Internet Research Agency, a “troll farm” located in St. Petersburg, Russia, created accounts on the social media site during the election, Twitter discovered. The company identified 2,752 accounts they found were tied to the Internet Research Agency last year and suspended them.

Blumenthal sent letters to Twitter, Facebook, and Google in November asking them to notify users who interacted with content generated by Russian agents.

Facebook representatives told Senator Blumenthal that it has already started rolling out a tool that lets users check if they liked or followed a Facebook page or Instagram account created by the IRA.

“The tool, though, doesn’t tell users, if Russian-linked content appeared on their News Feed during the election,” the report added.

Blumenthal was pleased with Facebook’s response but unhappy with Google.

“I just want to be blunt. I am disappointed by Google’s written response. It essentially blew off my concerns by saying the nature of the platform made it difficult to know who has viewed its content,” he was quoted as saying.

The tech executives also told the lawmakers how they have been using a mix of artificial intelligence (AI) and employees to flag extremist content.

In September last year, Twitter announced that it deleted over 200 fake Russian accounts and identified Russia Today of buying bought ads targeted at American users’ accounts.

Twitter also shared with committee staff ads that three Russia Today (RT) accounts targeted to the US market in 2016.

“Based on our findings thus far, RT spent $274,100 on U.S. ads in 2016. In that year, the three RT accounts promoted 1,823 tweets that definitely or potentially targeted the U.S. market,” Twitter said.