Congressional investigators in the United States are expected to find out from Twitter whether the microblogging platform was used by Russians in the promotion of divisive political and social messages in the course of the 2016 presidential election.
This was revealed by Senator Mark Warner following revelation by Facebook that an operation which was likely being run out of Russia had bought thousands of ads aimed at Americans which had polarizing views on matters such as gay rights, race and immigration. The ads were ran during the 24-month period and lasted until May this year. It is estimated that the ads roughly numbered about 3,000 and the amount spent on them was approximately $100,000. A total of 470 inauthentic accounts were linked to the operation and this was a clear violation of Facebook’s policies.
Senate Intelligence Committee
According to Senator Warner, who is the highest-ranked Democrat on the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, the Russian involvement in placing the ads may have exceeded what was initially disclosed by Facebook. Consequently Twitter as well as other tech firms should conduct an examination on the issue.
“It was my belief that the Russians were using those sites to interfere in our elections … I think what we saw yesterday in terms of their brief was the tip of the iceberg,” Warner said.
U.S. lawmakers were briefed by Facebook on Wednesday. The social media giant also handed over relevant information to special counsel Robert Mueller who is conducting an investigation into whether the Russians interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Some of the information included data on the buyers of the ads as well as copies of the advertisements.
Warner insisted that Facebook should brief the lawmakers once more and that Twitter as well as other tech firms should also be prepared to follow suit. The U.S. senator reiterated that Facebook had initially denied that the Russians had used its platform to interfere in the elections only to later have the assertion proved wrong. Warner also added that it may be necessary to introduce new legislation which would outline how political advertising is done on social media just like there are rules governing how it is done on television.