Microblogging platform Twitter has been accused by a UK parliamentary committee of offering an inadequate response with regards to questions on how Russian propaganda was used during the referendum on the European Union. Earlier in the week the microblogging platform submitted six tweets which it claimed were advertisements paid for by Russians in the course of the referendum campaigns.
Twitter revealed that it was Russia Today, the Kremlin-aligned English-language broadcaster which sent the six tweets. The microblogging platform also revealed that the broadcaster spent a little more than $1,000 to promote the tweets to social media users in the United Kingdom and this was in its efforts to promote awareness regarding its news coverage.
Damian Collins, a Member of Parliament and chair of the committee conducting an inquiry into Russian influence during the referendum period said Twitter had failed to address the matter substantively.
“The information you have now shared with us is completely inadequate. In the letter I sent to you on 3 November I requested ‘that Twitter provides to the committee a list of accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency,” said Collins.
A day earlier Facebook was also dressed down in a similar fashion. Documents submitted to the parliamentary committee showed that on Facebook only about $0.97 worth of paid advertisements were aimed at social media users in the United Kingdom during the EU referendum. In the case of both Twitter and Facebook Collins demanded that the two social media firms conduct broader and wider investigations.
The information that Twitter and Facebook are giving to the UK parliamentary committee contrasts sharply with what both social media platforms have given the US Congress. In a Congressional hearing looking into the activities of Russia during the 2016 US presidential election Twitter gave the committee responsible for the inquiry approximately 2,752 accounts associated with the Kremlin troll army, Internet Research Agency.
Facebook on the other hand identified 470 pages and accounts associated with the IRA and revealed that over $100,000 had been spent by the group on ads. The Menlo Park, California-based social media giant also gave samples of the ads to Congress. Facebook estimated that those ads reached a total of over 126 million Americans.