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Twitter warns more of its users about Russian propaganda

The social network says it's sent alerts to about 1.4 million people regarding Russia-linked content on the site.

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Under scrutiny regarding Russia-linked posts, Twitter says it's warning users who may have interacted with the material.

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We'd be hesitant to call it "waving a red flag," but Twitter is apparently sending a lot more of its users a warning signal about Russian propaganda.

On Wednesday, the social network updated an earlier blog post and said approximately 1.4 million people have now gotten a heads-up that they may have interacted on Twitter with Russian-linked content meant to spark division in the United States.

In the original post from Monday, Twitter said it had emailed 677,775 of its US users who during last year's presidential election retweeted or liked a post by the Internet Research Agency, a Russian government-linked group. People who followed an account associated with IRA propaganda were also included in that figure. The post followed a mid-January statement that Russian propaganda had been more widespread than estimated.

With the updated post, Twitter says it's expanded the number of people getting notifications.

"Our notice efforts are focused on certain types of interactions, and they will not encompass every person that ever saw this content," Twitter cautioned. 

The company said it's sent warnings to people who:

  • "Directly engaged during the election period with the 3,814 IRA-linked accounts we identified, either by retweeting, quoting, replying to, mentioning, or liking those accounts or content created by those accounts."
  • "Were actively following one of the identified IRA-linked accounts at the time those accounts were suspended."
  • "Opt out of receiving most email updates from Twitter and would not have received our initial notice based on their email settings."

The updated blog post comes as Twitter, Facebook and Google face pressure from the US Senate to clarify what went on with Russia and the presidential election.

Twitter and Facebook are also being asked by Democrats to investigate Russian involvement in the #ReleaseTheMemo social media campaign. The hashtag refers to a memo written by the House Intelligence Committee alleging misconduct by federal officials investigating the Trump campaign's possible ties with Russia.

Some Republicans have called for the classified memo to be made public. Some Democrats have characterized the memo as misleading and inaccurate. On Wednesday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Adam Schiff, both Democrats, sent a second letter to Twitter and Facebook about the issue.

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