Twitter has reportedly shut down over 200 accounts that were somehow proven to be linked with Russian operatives who posted "thousands of political ads on Facebook." Um, 200? Yeah, I think that number is probably missing a few zeros. But it's a start. A tiny raindrop in an ocean kind of start, but it's better than doing nothing.
The company also reports that it found three accounts with RT (formerly Russia Today) that spent over $270,000 on ads. Oh, and RT is linked to the Kremlin. So there's that. The Twitter accounts were taken down over the last month and had links to the "Internet Research Agency:, a Russia-connected troll farm. Twitter discovered numerous accounts related to that site and also closed them down.
Lawmakers on the Hill were discouraged that Twitter only looked into data received from Facebook versus launching their own investigation.
Representative Adam Schiff said Twitter needs to launch “a far more robust investigation” into the role Russia is playing on their site and added that “there are serious questions about whether Twitter has the capability to do the forensics necessary to determine how much the Russians used their platform.”
Twitter tried to explain away their refusal to do any real work to limit the bot/troll accounts. They stated in a blog post:
“Twitter deeply respects the integrity of the election process, which is a cornerstone for all democracies. We will continue to strengthen Twitter against attempted manipulation, including malicious automated accounts and spam, as well as other activities that violate our Terms of Service."
The problem for Twitter is that it is the easiest site on which to make fake accounts. All you need is an email account and you are done. Five minutes or less to make an account. Then retweet something inflammatory, get 100 other bots to RT it, push it to a verified user with a blue check (Doofus in charge, Hannity, Cernovich) and hope it they retweet it. Poof! You are weaponized.
The issue is bigger than just this election. Twitter really doesn't know how much their platform actually impacted the U.S. election in 2016. Unless they do some real investigation, we may have the same (or even worse) problem during the midterms in 2018. They could minimize the influx of fake accounts with something as simple as creating a more comprehensive verification system, but that doesn't seem to be a focus for them.