Thursday 22 August 2019

Committee demands Twitter hands over lists of Russian-related accounts

Twitter boss Jack Dorsey
Twitter boss Jack Dorsey

Andrew Woodcock

A parliamentary committee is demanding internet giant Twitter hands over lists of Russian-related accounts that may have attempted to interfere in the UK's democratic process.

The call from the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee came after Twitter told a US Congress inquiry it had detected thousands of Russian troll accounts posting material linked to American politics.

In a letter to Twitter chief executive officer Jack Dorsey, committee chairman Damian Collins said he wanted information on any Russian accounts posting about UK politics.

The committee is currently conducting an inquiry into the phenomenon of "fake news", in the wake of claims that social media may have been manipulated by overseas actors in an attempt to influence last year's EU referendum or the snap general election on June 8.

Twitter's acting general counsel Sean Edgett this week gave evidence to a Senate hearing that the organisation had traced 2,752 accounts to the Russia-based troll factory, the Internet Research Agency, which between them sent out 1.4 million messages in a span of just over two months.

Mr Collins told Mr Dorsey: "It has subsequently emerged that some of these accounts were also posting content that relates to the politics of the United Kingdom.

"Any interference by foreign actors in the democratic process of the United Kingdom is clearly a serious matter.

"I would therefore ask that Twitter provides to the Committee a list of accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency and any other Russian linked accounts that it has removed and examples of any posts from these accounts that are linked to the United Kingdom."

Mr Collins gave a deadline of the end of November for Twitter to provide the information.

PA Media

Also in Business