Microblogging firm Twitter has revealed that more than 1.4 million users of its platform engaged with content that had been generated by Russian trolls in the course of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The latest figure is more than double the number of users that Twitter had initially identified.
Additionally the social media platform indicated that the 1.4 million users had been alerted that they were exposed to election disinformation. This was in fulfilment of a promise Twitter made to Congress during a hearing seeking to unearth Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.
Internet Research Agency
Some of the users who were notified included those who were followers of approximately 3,000 accounts that belong to IRA – Internet Research Agency. This is a troll army with ties to Kremlin. Users who, in their tweets, mentioned, liked, replied or retweeted the IRA accounts were also notified.
However users who only saw content from the Russian trolls but never engaged with the content were not alerted. Others who were not alerted included those who saw content from some 50,000 Russian bots around November in 2016 when they tweeted on matters concerning the election. This means that the number of users who were exposed to the Russian disinformation campaign exceeded 1.4 million.
The revelation by Twitter comes in the wake of an appeals court ruling that the social media firm held no responsibility over the deaths of two government contractors who were attacked and killed by the Islamic State in Jordan. The families of the two wanted the microblogging platform held liable for failing to block the Islamic State from using Twitter’s messaging services as well as accounts.
In the ruling judges of the appeals court sitting in San Francisco said that there was no proof that Twitter had knowledge of an impending attack on the two government contractors by the Islamic State. The terrorist group claimed responsibility.
“Communication services and equipment are highly interconnected in modern economic and social life, such that the provision of these services and equipment to terrorists could be expected to cause ripples of harm to flow far beyond the defendant’s misconduct,” one of the judges at the appeals court, Milan Smith, wrote in the ruling.