Twitter sends notifications to users who follow Russian bots

Twitter notifies users if they follow an account suspected of being a bot linked to the Russian government. After an internal investigation, Twitter has found tens of thousands of accounts suspected of trying to influence the past US presidential election.

On his blog, Twitter has a update posted about the company’s internal investigation into influencing the American elections. To warn users of Russian bots trying to influence public opinion, Twitter sends email notifications when a Russian bot is followed, retweeted or liked by such accounts. There are 677,775 people who meet these criteria, and have therefore received an email, according to Twitter.

Twitter has also said that after an investigation it has found more accounts linked to the so-called Internet Research Agency. This organization is suspected of having ties to the Russian government, and posting material on social media to influence public opinion. In total, there are now 3,814 accounts linked to the IRA. The total number of accounts suspected of distributing pro-Russian material now stands at 50,258.

In order to better tackle fake accounts in the future, Twitter will invest in machine learning, so that it can better identify and block fake accounts and bots. Also, the number of coordinated activities across different accounts through the Twitter API should be limited.

Incidentally, Twitter is not only investigating the influence of the American elections in 2016. The influence of the Brexit vote is also being investigated. Facebook is doing the same, after the social networking site was used to distribute pro-Russian material.