Although we have known for a while about Facebook’s role in spreading Russian propaganda during last US presidential election, more details regarding Twitter roles in spreading fake news have started to come out. And now, Twitter revealed that Russian bots shared Donald Trump’s tweets nearly ten times than those of Hilary Clinton.
The latest data came directly from Twitter as the company submitted its data to Congress for a review earlier. Earlier, the Senate Judiciary Committee made the data public in an attempt to show how the microblogging platform might have affected the outcome of the election. Interestingly, the documents have revealed that Russian linked accounts are responsible for more than 2 million automated election related tweets during the period with total impression of about 455 million.
The company noted, “In an effort to better understand the impact of Russian-linked accounts on broader conversations on Twitter, we continued to examine those accounts’ volume of engagements with election-related content using additional signals.”
“We first reviewed the accounts’ engagement with Tweets from @HillaryClinton and @realDonaldTrump. Our data showed that, during the relevant time period, @HillaryClinton Tweets were Retweeted approximately 8.6 million times. Of those Retweets, 47,846 — or 0.55 percent — were from Russian-linked automated accounts. Tweets from @HillaryClinton received approximately 19.2 million likes during this period; 119,730 — or 0.62 percent — were from Russian-linked automated accounts. The volume of engagements with @realDonaldTrump Tweets from Russian-linked automated accounts was higher, but still relatively small. The Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account during this period were Retweeted more than 11 million times; 469,537 — or 4.25 percent — of those Retweets were from Russian-linked, automated accounts. Those Tweets received approximately 28.8 million likes across our platform; 517,408 — or 1.8 percent — of those likes came from Russian-linked automated accounts.”
While previously analysts have thought that Twitter had a smaller role to play during last election, the latest data reveals that the microblogging platform had much greater impact. As we move forward, it will be interesting to see if Twitter takes measures to prevent such instances in future.