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31 Oct, 2017 00:17

‘Russian election posts’ 0.74% & 0.004% of content – Twitter & Facebook reveal size of ‘campaign’

Social media giants Facebook and Twitter have prepared their testimonies on the alleged 'Russia-linked' election-related posts to US lawmakers. Both appear to say the numbers are under one percent of all election-related posts.

Facebook's written testimony, seen by Reuters and Bloomberg, claims some 80,000 posts related to the US election were published by "Russia-based operatives" over two years.

In the massive flow of Facebook's content, that amounts to one in 23,000 posts, or some 0.004 percent. Regardless, Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch called such posts a "new threat" to the social network's "mission of building community and everything we stand for." He said the posts were created by "fake accounts" and are thus "unacceptable."

Falling neatly in line with US lawmakers’ relentless hunt for alleged "Russian interference" in the 2016 US election, Stretch will testify that the posts “opened a new battleground for our company, our industry and our society.” Some 126 million Americans may have seen the offending posts over the two-year period, Stretch claims.

Twitter will meanwhile testify that it has "tracked" 2,752 automated accounts to "Russian operatives," according to an unnamed source familiar with Twitter's prepared testimony, Reuters reports.

READ MORE: Facebook, Google, Twitter staff aided both US presidential candidates – study

This is significantly up from the 201 accounts reported in September. The 1.4 million tweets by the "Russia-linked" automated accounts amount to some 0.74 percent of election coverage on Twitter and underperformed relative to their volume.

It is not clear whether the culpable accounts include Atlanta-based African-American rights activist Charlie Peach, who earlier told RT she was being banned in the "Russian bot" sweep, or any like her.

Facebook and Twitter have caved in to US lawmakers' pressure to find a centralized, Moscow-backed campaign that swayed American voters in the 2016 election, which saw Republic Donald Trump snatch a narrow win from Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Previously, Facebook revealed $100,000 worth of vaguely "Russia-linked" ads related to the election, over half of which it later admitted were posted after the election was over.

Twitter recently banned all ads from RT and Sputnik, citing "election interference." While doing so, however, it conveniently neglected to tell to lawmakers of its own multi-million dollar pitch for RT to buy ads during the election in question.

Twitter's move has prompted a stern rebuke from the Kremlin, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying it “sets a precedent of unequal treatment of its customers.” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said retaliatory measures could follow.

Russia has firmly and consistently denied any effort to sway the 2016 US election through social media.

Senior Google, Facebook and Twitter officials are expected to appear as witnesses at the Senate Judiciary Committee's panel on Crime and Terrorism Wednesday. Two more hearings involving Silicon Valley executives are scheduled: at the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee.