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Twitter finds over 1,000 new Russian-linked accounts

Twitter said Friday that it has suspended 1,062 new accounts it has found to be linked to the Internet Research Agency, a Russian “troll farm” which disseminated content intended to interfere in the U.S. political process. In total, the company has found 3,814 Internet Research Agency-linked accounts, which posted 175,993 tweets during the 2016 presidential campaign. Twitter said it also found 13,512 new Kremlin-linked bot accounts, bringing the total number of bots it has found in connection to Russia’s election influence efforts to 50,258.

The company also said in a post on Friday that it will notify 677,775 people to let them know that they either liked, retweeted or followed Russian-linked accounts, following a request from Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) to do so. Twitter noted, however, that it won’t show users the content they saw, saying that because it has “already suspended these accounts, the relevant content on Twitter is no longer publicly available.”

The social media platform did share examples of Russian content from known Internet Research Agency accounts such as @TEN_GOP, which impersonated the Tennessee Republican party, and others.

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“Cops have killed 68 people in 22 days since #Kaepernick started protesting. 68 in 22 days… have no words #KeithLamontScott,” read one example tweet from an Internet Research Agency account with the now suspended handle @Crystal1Johnson. Twitter said it has been working to curb the ability of foreign actors to manipulate its platform following revelations of Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election. It also said it’s working on new methods to prevent future abuse.

The company has said it will invest in new machine learning techniques to bolster its detection of malicious accounts, work with media literacy organizations, verify major party candidates in elections across the country and keep open lines of communication with election officials, among other steps. Twitter’s announcement comes after it testified before the Senate Commerce Committee earlier this week. Though the hearing focused on extremists’ use of Twitter as well as Facebook’s and YouTube’s platforms, lawmakers also grilled Twitter on how its platform was used by Russians during the 2016 campaign.

“Based on results, you’re not where you need to be for us to be reassured that you’re securing our democracy,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) told a Twitter representative during the hearing. “How can we know that you’re going to get this right before the midterms?”

Sen. Mark Warner (Va.), the top Democratic on the Intelligence Committee who has been one of the most vocal lawmakers over Russian actors taking advantage of technology platforms, welcomed Twitter’s new actions Friday. I’ve been tough with Twitter on this, but I’m encouraged to see the company beginning to take responsibility and notify its users of Russia’s influence campaign on its platform,” he said in a tweet.

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