Twitter’s internal review of the activity on its platform during the 2016 US presidential election led to the identification and suspension of accounts that were “potentially connected to a propaganda effort by a Russian government-linked organization,” according to a blog post from the company.
Twitter identified an organization it said took park in propaganda efforts; the Internet Research Agency (IRA) – also referred to as Russia’s “troll army.”
Twitter said it emailed notifications to 677,775 users who interacted with tweets originating from IRA during the election period. The social-media platform also said that it identified automated Russia-based accounts during the course of its investigation.
Although Twitter alleges that the number of Russian-linked accounts that tweeted election-related content during the election represented a small fraction of the total accounts on Twitter, it acknowledged that “any such activity represents a challenge to democratic societies everywhere.”
“Twitter is committed to providing a platform that fosters healthy civic discourse and democratic debate,” the company’s blog post said.
Though the questionable accounts were suspended and the published content was no longer available, the company provided some examples of the content that “received significant engagement.”
Here are some examples of the Russian government-linked tweets that Twitter users shared during the election:
The following tweet, made two days before the 2016 US presidential election, appears to impersonate the Tennessee Republican Party’s official Twitter account: @TNGOP.
Former FBI director James Comey was a hot-button topic amongst Democrats and Republicans alike, after he dropped a bombshell recommendation that then-candidate Hillary Clinton should not face criminal charges related to her use of a private email server when she was secretary of state.
Another tweet from the IRA appeared to comment on the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
The image of former President Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea Clinton shown here is from the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University on September 26, 2016.
This account, whose tweets could still be found in online archives, references the conservative rallying cry that followed comments Hillary Clinton made about some of Donald Trump’s supporters.
Clinton famously riled up Republicans when she characterized half of Trump’s supporters as “a basket of deplorables.”
According to Clinton, who made that remark at a campaign event in September 2016, those “deplorables” consisted of people who she called “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, and Islamophobic.”
Two days after the election, this tweet targeted billionaire hedge-fund manager George Soros, a popular target for conservative political operatives.
Other tweets from the IRA-associated accounts focused on issues that tended to polarize the political climate, such as this tweet on the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, a Black American who was fatally shot by a police officer.