Twitter Finds Thousands More Russian-linked Accounts And Bots

Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) has announced the discovery of more than a thousand new accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency, a Russian “troll farm” suspected of attempting to interfere in the U.S. political process. To date, the company has found 3,814 Internet Research Agency-linked accounts. Those accounts were found to have posted nearly 176,000 tweets during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The company said that had also found 13,512 new Kremlin-linked bot accounts, bringing the total number of bots found to more than 50,000. Twitter says that over 675,000 users of its site either liked, retweeted or followed Russian-linked accounts. Those users will be notified, the company says, but they will not be able to review the content because Twitter has already suspended the accounts.

Twitter’s announcement comes after it testified before the Senate Commerce Committee on how its platform was used by Russians during the 2016 campaign. Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election has put Twitter in the difficult position of finding ways to curb the ability of foreign actors to manipulate its platform. The company has announced several measures it is taking to prevent future abuse.

One measure that Twitter will be taking will be to invest in new machine learning techniques to bolster its detection of malicious accounts. The company is also planning to communicate more with election officials and take additional steps to verify major party candidates in elections across the country. The company will work with media literacy organizations to achieve its goals.

The top-trending hashtag among Twitter accounts linked to Russian influence operations is #ReleaseTheMemo. An analysis found that the frequency with which the accounts have been promoting the hashtag has spiked by 233,000 percent over the past 48 hours. In the past two days, they’ve shared more than 4,500 hashtags on the topic. A top hashtag is typically used around 400 times in a 48-hour period.

#ReleaseTheMemo is a reference to a document written by Rep. Devin Nunes that reportedly details information about former President Barack Obama’s administration conducting surveillance against President-elect Donald Trump during the transition period. The four-page memo is currently classified. Several Republican congressmen have called on the House Intelligence Committee to release memo.