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U.K. Parliamentary Panel Asks Twitter For Data On Accounts Linked To Russia

Twitter chief Jack Dorsey (left) on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in 2013.
Twitter chief Jack Dorsey (left) on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in 2013.

A parliamentary committee in Britain has asked Twitter for details of accounts linked to Russia, days after counterparts in the United States made similar requests of social media companies.

The House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee (DCMS) on November 3 said the request was made in view of information provided to U.S. congressional committees investigating alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Committee Chairman Damian Collins wrote to Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey asking for information on any posting about U.K. politics by Russian accounts.

"During the hearings, it became clear that your organisation has discovered 2,752 accounts related to the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency," he wrote.

"It has subsequently emerged that some of these accounts were also posting content that relates to the politics of the United Kingdom.”

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

In October, Collins wrote to Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg requesting details "relating to any adverts and pages paid for, or set up by, Russia-linked accounts" relating to the Brexit vote last year or the general election in June 2017.

On November 1, Britain's Electoral Commission said it was investigating whether Russia may have meddled in the Brexit vote by helping to finance an anti-European Union campaigner.

In the United States on November 1, U.S lawmakers released a batch of Facebook ads linked to Russia’s efforts to disrupt the 2016 presidential election and heighten tensions on sensitive social issues.

The release of the ads by the House Intelligence Committee came as Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other social media platforms have faced increasing pressure for not doing enough to block Russian interference on their sites and prevent meddling in the election.

Facebook, Google, and Twitter have said they found thousands of ads bought by Russia-linked accounts, including some paid for in rubles, and that they were potentially seen by some 126 million people.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the FBI, and at least two congressional committees are investigating Russia’s actions during the campaign.

The Kremlin denies that it interfered in the U.S. election.

With reporting by AFP and The Evening Standard
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