Twitter releases 10m suspect tweets in fake news investigation

Data dump includes 3,841 accounts associated with a Russian troll farm

Platform had previously disclosed the concerns about disinformation on its site. Photograph: Getty

Platform had previously disclosed the concerns about disinformation on its site. Photograph: Getty

 

Twitter announced on Wednesday it had released a data cache of more than 10 million tweets from accounts suspected of being involved in disinformation campaigns, to allow it to be independently investigated.

The social media group said it was releasing all the accounts and related content associated with “potential information operations” - including those suspected of disseminating fake news to influence the latest US presidential election - that it had found on its site since 2016.

The data includes 3,841 accounts associated with a Russian troll farm, known as the Internet Research Agency, as well as 770 accounts associated with a second attempted influence campaign that Twitter said may have originated in Iran.

Twitter had previously disclosed the existence of the accounts and concerns about disinformation activity taking place on its website. In January, US senators asked Facebook and Twitter for “ urgent assistance” on what they believed was a Russian manipulation campaign.

“In line with our strong principles of transparency and with the goal of improving understanding of foreign influence and information campaigns, we are releasing the full, comprehensive archives of the Tweets and media that are connected with these two previously disclosed and potentially state-backed operations on our service,” Twitter said in a statement on Wednesday.

Inauthentic behaviour

The data dump includes more than 2 million images, GIFs, videos and Periscope broadcasts, Twitter said, including activity dating back to 2009.

“It is clear that information operations and co-ordinated inauthentic behaviour will not cease. These types of tactics have been around for far longer than Twitter has existed - they will adapt and change as the geopolitical terrain evolves worldwide and as new technologies emerge,” it said.

The company said it was investing in tackling such activity, but that independent analysis by researchers was also a “key step” towards better understanding potential threats. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018