Twitter announced on Friday that it will be sending notices to nearly 678,000 of its users who either followed, retweeted, or liked content from an alleged Russian propaganda service in the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election.
In a company blog post, Twitter said that notifying affected users is part of its continuing effort to update both congressional committees and the public about possible Russian interference that occurred on its platform.
“Since we presented our findings to Congress last fall, we have updated our analysis and continue to look for patterns and signals in data,” the company said. “Today, we are sharing an update on several aspects of that ongoing work, as well as steps we are taking to continue to make progress against potential manipulation of our platform.”
In its update, Twitter says that it has identified and suspended over 1,000 additional accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency (IRA) – a Russian government-linked organization that has been accused of interfering in the 2016 election through propaganda efforts.
In all, Twitter says it found over 13,000 IRA-linked user accounts and 50,000 automated accounts that posted election-related content during the election period. While those numbers only represented a fraction of Twitter’s total users during the time period, officials admit that any manipulation is unacceptable.
“Any such activity represents a challenge to democratic societies everywhere, and we’re committed to continuing to work on this important issue,” the company said.
Improving for future elections
Since the accounts have already been taken down, consumers won’t necessarily be able to see which piece of content they engaged with if contacted by Twitter. However, the company says that it is making “significant improvements” to detect and prevent this type of activity on its platform.
For future elections, the company says it will be verifying major candidates, offices, and national party accounts to protect against impersonation. It has also pledged to monitor trends and spikes around content related to 2018 elections to root out potential manipulation.
“Even as we continue to learn from the events of the 2016 U.S. election, we are taking steps every day to improve the security of our platform and stay one step ahead of those who would abuse it,” the company said.