Since the unexpected election of Donald Trump as president, questions about Russia's role in the election have emerged. U.S. intelligence services say that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election.
Russia allegedly used social networks such as Twitter and Facebook to spread disinformation throughout the election to sway voters in favor of Donald Trump. Twitter responded to finding Russian-backed trolls on its website by purging more than 200,000 tweets.
NBC News published more than 200,000 tweets that Twitter deleted from accounts tied to Russia. The tweets are from the time of the 2016 presidential election. These accounts are linked to the Russian-backed group, the Internet Research Association (IRA.)
IRA has been deemed by the U.S. Intelligence Community to be tied to Russia's attempts to influence the election. Twitter says that about 1.4 million users have received notifications from the service telling them that they may have followed or interacted with IRA-linked accounts.
To combat the Russian interference, Twitter gave Congress a list of 3,814 accounts connected to the IRA. Twitter suspended these accounts, removing all of their related tweets from the internet. This gets rid of the kinds of tweets that these accounts were sharing.
These accounts would use tragedies like terrorist attacks, shootings, and deaths to get reactions out of people. They would also use breaking news, terrorist attacks, and conspiracy theories to spread their influence among the online community.
The 200,000 tweets show how the IRA was able to impersonate Americans and influence the opinions of voting blocks to get Donald Trump elected. It created a spreadsheet with the tweets, since they have been removed by Twitter.
Continued Russian Meddling
While the 2016 presidential election may now be far from people's minds, Twitter continues to be used by Russia to influence American politics. In January, Democrats were trying to stop Rep. Devin Nunes from releasing a four-page memo that contained selective information about FBI surveillance on Trump adviser Carter Page.
Russian trolls were able to coordinate to promote the #releasethememo hashtag online. The hashtag rose in popularity in a few hours on Jan. 18. After fueling speculation about what the memo would be about, Democrats on the House and Senate Intelligence Committees wrote a letter to Twitter and Facebook to find out whether or not it was driven by Russian support. Many accounts ending with 8-digits tweeted in support of the memo. These accounts in the past have been found to be connected with Russian bot accounts.