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Twitter let more than 1 million users know they engaged with Russian propaganda

The company has detected and deleted more Russia-linked accounts, raising the total to 3,814.

Facebook, Google And Twitter Testify Before Congress On Russian Disinformation
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) questions representatives from Google, Facebook, and Twitter about Russian online propaganda.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Jen Kirby is a senior foreign and national security reporter at Vox, where she covers global instability.

Twitter has alerted about 1.4 million US users that they may have retweeted, followed, or liked a propaganda account linked to the Russian government during the election.

That number is more than double the amount — approximately 677,000 — of Twitter users the company had originally said interacted with Russian propaganda or bots during the 2016 campaign.

The company updated those numbers on Wednesday in a blog post about its ongoing review of Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election using social media accounts that promoted fake news or incendiary memes.

Twitter also admitted it’s likely more than 1.4 million users saw such Russia-linked content. But the company is only warning those who directly interacted — followed, replied to, retweeted, etc. — those accounts.

That includes users who interacted with the 3,814 accounts connected to the Internet Research Agency, the troll farm with ties to the Kremlin. Twitter had previously revised up the total number of Russia-linked accounts it uncovered since its testimony to Congress in the fall.

Twitter says all of the Russian propaganda accounts have since been deleted, though it posted a few samples on its blog that the company said “received significant engagement.” Those posts hit on hot-button issues on both the left and the right, and include politically charged statements intended to polarize and sow division.


The company also said it had discovered about 50,000 Russia-linked automated accounts that tweeted out some election-related content.

Twitter, of course, isn’t the only social media giant still grappling with the 2016 election. Facebook and Google, both detected Russia-linked propaganda on their sites, and, like Twitter, are trying to balance worries over fake news and hate speech with freedom of speech.

Indeed, Facebook announced earlier this month that it’s trying to prioritize “high quality” news sources on its site — though it said it says it’s going to survey users to help decide what sources are trustworthy.