Twitter Says False Content Is Evolving, and More Comes From the U.S.

Twitter Says False Content Is Evolving, and More Comes From the U.S.


In its disclosures on Thursday, Twitter said it still found new suspicious activity by Russians. The company said it found and removed 418 accounts between last October and December that it linked to Russia. Previously, Twitter had removed 3,843 accounts linked to the Russian government-run troll farm called the Internet Research Agency.

The 418 new accounts mimicked the behavior of the 3,843 accounts that were run by the I.R.A. Twitter’s head of site integrity, Yoel Roth, said in the blog post that the company could not prove that the new accounts it discovered were run by the I.R.A.

(The company has said it is difficult to definitively tie accounts to specific countries or governments, though it uses information about how someone logs in and what kinds of content is posted to the account to determine its origin.)

During the midterm elections, users posted 99 million tweets about the event — more than the social media company has observed during any prior election, Mr. Monje said. While much of the disinformation activity was domestic, Twitter also found signs of continued foreign interference that were potentially connected to Venezuela, Iran and Russia.

Two disinformation campaigns that the company removed were from Venezuela, which is currently grappling with political turmoil as opposition leader Juan Guaidó has declared himself as the country’s acting president in a challenge to incumbent Nicolás Maduro. (Both men have taken to Twitter to champion themselves.) One Venezuelan campaign that Twitter uncovered was made up of 764 accounts that posted about American politics and the midterm elections, while another network of 1,196 accounts posted political content targeted at Venezuelan citizens.

Twitter said it was able to determine that the domestic Venezuelan campaign was organized by the Venezuelan government because of digital clues linking the accounts to the country. In addition, a person familiar with the campaign said the activity followed specific guidelines that were laid out in a troll farm guide compiled by the country’s government and published by Bloomberg.

The largest influence campaign uncovered by Twitter — the one that originated in Iran and included 2,617 accounts — appeared related to a similar campaign last year that aimed to influence political conversations in the United States, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Israel. This time, the campaign was also targeted at people in various countries, Twitter said.



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