Twitter released account and tweet data on Wednesday it claims are “associated with potential information operations found on our service since 2016.” It further describes its motive in censoring content across its digital platforms as serving the best interest of “the public conversation.”
The social media company believes the released data is linked to what is says are ongoing “foreign interference in political conversations on Twitter” directed by Russian and Iranian governments. Its own press release opts against making a concrete claim to this end, noting its inability to confirm a link between the aforementioned accounts and either the Russian or Iranian governments:
Our initial disclosures cover two previously disclosed campaigns, and include information from 3,841 accounts believed to be connected to the Russian Internet Research Agency, and 770 accounts believed to originate in Iran.
Twitter notes the possibility it has banned good faith users as “false positives.”
Twitter will not describe “foreign influence campaigns” as confirmed, using “alleged” and “potentially” as qualifying and descriptive caveats:
In line with our principles of transparency and to improve public understanding of alleged foreign influence campaigns, Twitter is making publicly available archives of Tweets and media that we believe resulted from potentially state-backed information operations on our service.
Twitter made no mention of foreign and state-run English-language news media outlets — for example, the BBC, CBC, France24, or Al-Jazeera — seeking to influence American politics across its digital properties.
Twitter describes itself as committed to “principles of transparency” in its ostensible efforts to minimize “foreign influence” across its media:
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. We are making this data available with the goal of encouraging open research and investigation of these behaviors from researchers and academics around the world.
Despite Democrats and the left framing President Donald Trump’s election as a function of Russian “election hacking,” political messaging across Twitter attributed the Russian state took varying positions on assorted political issues.
The Wrap reported:
The accounts didn’t take a hardline stance on most political issues. Instead, they looked to foster dissension with both pro-Trump and anti-Trump tweets, tweets in favor and against former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his decision to kneel during the national anthem. “Rosa Parks took a seat. We must #TakeTheKnee,” one troll account tweeted.
Twitter executives, including its co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey, have repeatedly denied using left-wing and partisan Democrat biases in their content management and censorship policies.
Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter.