NBC News has published a list of more than 200,000 tweets that Twitter has said emanated from Russian-linked accounts trying to spread disinformation during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The tweets contain inflammatory messaging and focus on divisive, partisan issues in an effort to sow disunity and discord in U.S. society.
Twitter submitted a list of 3,814 account names it believes were connected to Russian disinformation campaigns to Congress, last year. The company has since suspended those accounts. But in suspending those accounts, the company deleted the tweets as well, something experts say probably shouldn’t be done in a case of foreign interference.
NBC, working with experts it says are familiar with Twitter’s data systems, was able to partially rebuild the database of deleted tweets, using the names of account holders released to Congress. The tweets show the Russian accounts impersonated everyday Americans and drew hundreds of millions of followers by pushing polarizing content and exploiting breaking news and events.
“RT if you also think WikiLeaks has done great service for the Americans exposing Hillary’s corruption,” read one tweet. “Black people, if you’re really so offended, then stop using welfare that our country provide you with #boycottNFL,” read another.
The Director of National Intelligence testified before Congress yesterday that he believes the U.S. remains under cyber attack and that the attacks are continuous. “Frankly, the United States is under attack,” Coats said. “Under attack by entities that are using cyber to penetrate virtually every major action that takes place in the United States.”