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Senator: Twitter’s actions on Russia-linked accounts lacking

  • Twitter's Carlos Monje, the director of public policy and philanthropy, right, knocks on the door with Colin Crowell, head of global public policy, to enter the closed door meeting with the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017 in Washington. Officials from Twitter are on Capitol Hill as part of the House and Senate investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 elections. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Alex Brandon

  • Twitter's Colin Crowell, head of global public policy, arrives for the closed door meeting with the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017 in Washington. Officials from Twitter are on Capitol Hill as part of the House and Senate investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 elections. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Alex Brandon

  • Twitter's Emily Horne, left, global policy communications director, Carlos Monje, the public policy and philanthropy director, and Colin Crowell, head of global public policy, enter the closed door meeting with the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017 in Washington. Officials from Twitter are on Capitol Hill as part of the House and Senate investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 elections. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Alex Brandon

  • The House Intelligence Committee meets in a secure room and behind closed doors on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017 in Washington. Officials from Twitter are on Capitol Hill for meetings as part of the House and Senate investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 elections. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Alex Brandon

  • FILE- This April 26, 2017, file photo shows the Twitter app on a mobile phone in Philadelphia. Social media giant Twitter will visit Capitol Hill Sept. 28, as part of the House and Senate investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File) Matt Rourke

  • ADDS NAME OF WOMAN AT RIGHT - Twitter's Emily Horne, left, global policy communications director, Colin Crowell, center, head of global public policy, and Elizabeth Banker, associate general counsel, wait to enter the closed door hearing of the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Alex Brandon



Associated Press
Thursday, September 28, 2017

Social media giant Twitter told congressional investigators Thursday it has suspended at least two dozen accounts that may have been tied to Russia, but the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee was anything but satisfied.

Virginia Sen. Mark Warner said Twitter’s explanations of its actions against Russia-linked accounts were “deeply disappointing,” and he suggested the company doesn’t understand the seriousness of Congress’ investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Warner made the comments after company executives met behind closed doors with staff members of both the Senate and House intelligence committees for several hours.

Warner said the information Twitter shared “was frankly inadequate on almost every level.”

The disclosures by Twitter follow Facebook revelations that some 3,000 ads were purchased by entities with likely ties to Russia and as congressional investigators are examining the spread of false news stories and propaganda on social media during the campaign.

The committees have been investigating Russia’s election meddling and any possible coordination with associates of Republican Donald Trump in his campaign against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. They have specifically been looking at Twitter and Facebook and their roles in the spread of misinformation and propaganda during the campaign.

The company said in a blog post that it found 22 accounts corresponding to about 450 Facebook accounts that were likely operated out of Russia and pushed divisive social and political issues during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Facebook has said those accounts were responsible for buying about 3,000 ads worth about $100,000.

Twitter says it also found an additional 179 related accounts and took action against ones that violated its rules. The company didn’t specific how many of those accounts were suspended or the type of action taken. A person familiar with Twitter’s response to the accounts says that most of those accounts were found to have violated the platform’s rules. The person did not know if all 179 had been suspended from the service. The person spoke only on condition of anonymity because the person wasn’t authorized to discuss the information publicly.

Warner said that Twitter’s findings were merely “derivative” of Facebook’s work, and “showed an enormous lack of understanding from the Twitter team of how serious this issue is, the threat it poses to democratic institutions.”

He said the meeting underscored the need for the company to come forward in a public hearing. Both the House and Senate intelligence panels are inviting Twitter, Facebook and Google to testify this fall.

Thursday’s closed meetings lasted several hours. The company’s executives included Colin Crowell, a vice president of public policy, government and corporate philanthropy; Carlos Monje, director of public policy and philanthropy; attorney Elizabeth Banker, and Emily Horne, global policy communications director.

Twitter said it also provided congressional investigators with a “roundup” of ads from accounts used by Russia’s state-sponsored news network, RT. The company said in a blog post that RT spent $274,100 on ads targeted to markets in the U.S. during 2016.