The social media company has reveled to US Congress that thousands of Russian-affiliated automated accounts retweeted President Donald Trump nearly half a million times in the weeks prior to the 2016 presidential election. The accounts also engaged with @WikiLeaks that published the hacked emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.


Illustration Photo Credit: Sliman Khader/Flash90

50,000 automated Russian-linked Twitter accounts retweeted posts by US President Donald Trump almost half a million times in the weeks leading to the 2016 presidential election. Twitter disclosed the data in a report presented to US Congress last week.

The Senate Judiciary Committee released the company’s findings on Friday. “We identified 50,258 accounts that generated automated, election-related content and had at least one of the characteristics we used to associate an account with Russia,” Twitter stated in the report. “During the relevant period, those accounts generated approximately 2.12 million automated, election-related Tweets, which collectively received approximately 454.7 million impressions generated within the first seven days of posting.”

According to the data, the bots also demonstrated significant engagement with accounts such as WikiLeaks and DCLeaks. In 2016, WikiLeaks was the first to release the hacked emails from the personal accounts of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta. Twitter revealed that the automated accounts were responsible for 5% of the tweets containing the tag “#PodestaEmails” at the time.

In the report, the company emphasized that the Russian-linked accounts tweeting election-related content represented approximately two one-hundredths of a percent (0.016%) of the total accounts on the website at the time. Furthermore, the tweets generated by the accounts were approximately 1% of the overall election-related content on Twitter.