clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Senators Grill Twitter And Facebook Over Russian Election Meddling

Fake accounts may have swung the election, and Senators are getting hyped up about it.

Ever feel like the people on Twitter aren't real? Of course "bots," or fake computerized accounts, are a known issue, but Twitter is now under governmental pressure due to the role fake accounts may have played in Russia's attempts to swing the 2016 presidential election.

Senators recently held a closed-door briefing with representatives from Twitter, requesting the platform's internal intel on the extent of Russia's meddling efforts. And the Senators were decidedly unpleased with Twitter's report, with Senator Warner of Virginia criticizing Twitter for being underprepared and failing to adequately investigate Russia's misuse of the platform. This is because Twitter said it found over 200 accounts that appeared to be linked to Russia's efforts to influence the election, while independent investigators found that number is likely much, much higher. Further, most of these 200 accounts were linked to Facebook accounts which Facebook itself had presented to Senators at a similar hearing about Russia's infiltration of that social media platform.

In other words, Senators were calling out Twitter for cribbing their answers from Facebook's homework. Not a good look!

Twitter has suspended these 201 accounts. But Senator Warner has called Twitter's acts so far "frankly inadequate on almost every level." You can read Twitter's blogpost about their meeting on Capitol Hill here.

Congress's investigation into Twitter mirrors their look into Facebook, wherein Senators have confirmed that Russia-linked accounts purchased Facebook ads which promoted Black Lives Matter in areas, like Baltimore, where racial tensions over police killings were at their highest. In Facebook's meeting with Senators, the platform identified over 3,000 accounts involved with Russia's election meddling.

The accounts Facebook identified focused on issues such as gun control, race relations and immigration. These were amongst the hot-button issues the Trump campaign focused on in its winning efforts.

After initially balking at allegations that Facebook was manipulated to swing the election, Mark Zuckerberg has now apologized for "the ways in which (his) network was used to divide people."

Facebook is still on the hook here, and don't expect Twitter to be let off, either: The platform has said it is committed to "continue to work with official inquiries into these isssues, and to share updates publicly as we are able."

And, as if Twitter wasn't managing enough from this governmental criticism and lackluster financial prospects, this past week the platform began rolling out 208-character limit tweets for some users. For some, the increase undercuts the forced brevity that made Twitter so distinctive. Are you into it? Let us know @revolttv.

Sign up for the newsletter Join the revolution.

Get REVOLT updates weekly so you don’t miss a thing.