Speed Reads

troll farm

Thousands of Twitter trolls tried to use Russia's 2016 techniques on the 2018 midterms

Twitter identified and removed troll accounts from five countries trying to uproot the 2018 midterms, the company revealed Thursday.

Thousands of Twitter accounts from countries including Russia, Iran, and Venezuela were found to be copying Russia's 2016 interference tactics, NBC News reports. Many of these accounts were backed by foreign governments and either spread disinformation or inflamed political discourse, Twitter said in a press release.

The accounts looked like those used by the Internet Research Agency, a Moscow-backed group indicted in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into possible ties between President Trump's campaign and Russia. Twitter said it took down 418 of these kinds of accounts from Russia, which were "aimed to inflame hot-button political debates in the U.S.," NBC News writes. These accounts were "less effective" than what we saw in 2018, and were all removed before the elections, a Twitter spokesperson says.

Twitter also found 764 troll accounts from Venezuela that used the IRA's tactics, and more than 2,600 accounts from an Iranian network. Iran's efforts "sought to amplify political messages that had been broadcast by the country’s state-run media," a third of which were tweeted in English, per The Washington Post. Another 6,000 U.S.-based posts sharing misinformation, like the suggestion that votes could be cast via text, were also shut down. Facebook also announced Thursday that it "removed 783 Pages, groups and accounts for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior tied to Iran."

These removals show how far Twitter has come since Russia "reached hundreds of millions of social media users across the web" in 2016, the Post writes. Yet it also shows how Russia's methods are spreading, suggesting Twitter, Facebook, and other social sites need to do more to curb them.