Twitter bans 200 accounts, identified RT's role in U.S. elections

US President Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump

At a committee briefing, Twitter executives gave Congress their analysis of how the social media platform may have been exploited by the Russian government in the run up to the election in 2016.

The company also disclosed in the briefings and its blog post that Russia Today (RT), a media outlet funded by the Russian government, "spent $274,100 in United States ads in 2016".

The three companies are facing intense scrutiny from U.S. House and Senate intelligence panels as investigators focus on social media's role in Russia's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

One of the congressional committees investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 election has invited the tech giants Facebook, Twitter and the parent company of Google to appear for a public hearing on November 1.

In an online statement, Twitter said it had looked at around 450 accounts shared by Facebook, after that social network conducted a similar investigation, and found that 22 had corresponding Twitter accounts. RT accounts spent $274,100 on US -targeted Twitter ads in 2016, promoting 1,823 tweets about news stories towards users who follow of mainstream media accounts.

"All of those identified accounts had already been or immediately were suspended from Twitter for breaking our rules, most for violating our prohibitions against spam", Twitter's blog post reads.

It was unclear what Twitter was likely to say in Thursday's hearing, but the company is under increased pressure from lawmakers and the public to disclose what it knows about Russian activity.

"Today, Twitter vice-president for public policy, Colin Crowell, met with staff from Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to discuss these issues".

Despite the revelation, Twitter came under fire when Senator Mark Warner, the Democratic vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, criticized the site for not understanding the seriousness of the matter or answering the questions of the committee, notes The Chicago Tribune.

The Russian-linked accounts were not registered as advertisers, Twitter said, but it promised to continue investigating the situation. Additionally, Twitter found another 179 accounts.

Attempts by Russia-linked social media accounts to influence events in the USA apparently weren't limited to last year's USA election.

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