Twitter has discovered 201 accounts that appear to be tied to the same Russian accounts that purchased ads on Facebook that may have influenced the 2016 presidential election.
Twitter told congressional investigators Thursday during a closed-door meeting with the House and in Washington, DC. Twitter said after checking about 450 Facebook profiles it found 22 Twitter accounts that matched. Of those 22 accounts had ties to 179 other Twitter accounts.
Those that were found to be violation of Twitter rules have been suspended, the company said in a blog post.
“Neither the original accounts shared by Facebook, nor the additional related accounts we identified, were registered as advertisers on Twitter,” Twitter said. “However, we continue to investigate these issues, and will take action on anything that violates our Terms of Service.”
The word of Twitter’s participation comes days about a week after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said last week the company is turning over 3,000 Russian-linked ads to Congress as part of the federal investigation. The Senate intel committee, along with special counsel Robert Mueller, is looking into how the Russian government might have influenced the election and whether President Donald Trump’s campaign was involved. Trump has repeatedly denied any involvement.
Twitter said Thursday that it also showed the two congressional committees ads purchased by three accounts linked to the news organization Russia Today. Twitter said “based on our findings thus far, (Russia Today) spent $274,100 in US ads in 2016.”The company also cited report earlier this year from the US intelligence community highlighted Russia Today’s efforts to interfere with election.
“As of our meetings today we believe this is the complete list from these three accounts within that time frame, but we are continuing to review our internal data and will report back to the committees as we have more to share,” Twitter said.
Meanwhile, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee said after Thursday’s meeting he was disappointed with Twitter’s presentation. Warner told reporters that he wanted to hear from Twitter to learn more about the use of fake accounts and bot network and that their response was “frankly inadequate” on almost every level.
“The presentation that the Twitter team made to the Senate Intel staff today was deeply disappointing,” he said. “The notion that their work was basically derivative, based upon accounts that Facebook had identified, showed [an] enormous lack of understanding from the Twitter team of how serious this issue is, the threat it poses to democratic institutions, and again begs many more questions than they offered.”
Twitter, along with Facebook, Google have been called by the Senate Intelligence Committee to testify at a public hearing on November 1 about Russia’s role influencing the presidential election.
First published Sept. 28, 1:19 p.m. PT.Update, 1:48 p.m.: Adds comments from Sen. Mark Warner and background.