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Russian bots retweeted Trump 470,000 times in election run-up

 

 

 

Meanwhile, Russia-linked accounts retweeted candidate Hillary Clinton’s posts just under 50,000 times, Twitter discloses in response to a Senate committee inquiry.

Here’s just the latest nugget to surface as a result of congressional probes of tech platforms used by Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election: Russia-linked accounts shared Donald Trump’s tweets almost half a million times in the run-up to Election Day.

In a document posted by the Senate Judiciary Committee Friday (PDF), Twitter revealed that Russian bots retweeted Trump almost 470,000 times between Sept. 1 and Nov. 15, 2016. During that same timeframe, the Russian-linked accounts retweeted candidate Hillary Clinton less than 50,000 times, Twitter told the committee.

The figures were released just a day after a different Senate committee, the Select Committee on Intelligence, published answers from Facebook, Google, and Twitter to follow-up questions from its investigation on the same topic. But that 100-page response didn’t shed much light on details and was more about protocols.

Twitter did say in that report to the intelligence committee, however, that it detects about 450,000 “suspicious” logins a day that may be bots or computer programs created to automatically post and respond to things on Twitter. So that makes 470,000 Russian-bot retweets in two-and-a-half months for Trump — who was and continues to be a prolific tweeter — seem a little smaller.

Still, the new disclosure from Twitter further illustrates how Russia meddlers manipulated the platform, something the company earlier this month said was more widespread than initially estimated. It’s now identified 3,814 accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency, which was the seat of the Russian propaganda effort. In October, Twitter executives testified in front of Congress that it had found roughly 2,700 accounts affiliated with the election interference.

Twitter pledged to let users of the service know if they were exposed to propaganda associated with a Kremlin-linked troll farm. And it’s created a task force to handle related issues that come up during the midterm elections in November. It’s also banned Russian government-run news sites from buying ads.

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