Twitter took steps on Friday to inform 677,775 people that when they gleefully forwarded, “liked” or retweeted those anti-Clinton memes to their friends during the run-up to the 2016 election, they were acting as stooges for Vladmir Putin and the Russian government.
Twitter is sending emails to 677,775 people in the US — letting them know they may have retweeted, followed, or liked a propaganda account linked to the Russian government during the election.
The company posted an update Friday on its site about its ongoing review of Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 election using social media accounts that promoted fake news or incendiary memes, after scrutiny by Congress and criticism for failing to stem the tide of misinformation on social media.
The company also divulged that the number of phony accounts attributable to the “Internet Research Agency,” the propaganda boiler room operated by Russian Intelligence designed to sway the election in Trump’s favor by spreading predominantly anti-Clinton and Pro-Trump memes, was far greater than originally estimated.
The social network said it had identified 3,814 accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency, which was the seat of the Russian propaganda effort. In October, Twitter executives testified in front of Congress that it had found roughly 2,700 accounts affiliated with the election interference.
Twitter also said it found 13,512 Russian-related automated accounts known as bots — software that poses as real users — in addition to the more than 36,000 accounts they previously revealed. The automated accounts represented two one-hundredths of a percent of all Twitter accounts at the time, the company said.
Twitter has suspended these accounts.
The overwhelming number of these phony memes, many by Russian “bots,” were anti-Clinton or pro-Trump, as one study determined before the election had even occurred:
To put Twitter’s bot problem during the election in perspective, in October 2016, a team from Oxford University’s Project on Computational Propaganda found that pro-Trump bots tweeted with debate-related hashtags seven times more than pro-Clinton bots during the third presidential debate.
Given the willful ignorance of Trump supporters towards the subject of Russian interference and the natural human tendency to vociferously deny the fact that one has been duped or conned, it’s doubtful this revelation will cause any significant number of people to re-think their motivations for supporting the election of the worst and most incompetent President in American history. Most will likely fall back on the assumption that they could not possibly have been influenced by social media, and that this is undoubtedly a case of Twitter sending out “fake news.”
And, in fact, those sentiments are sure to be validated by all of their “friends” on Facebook.