Twitter Dumps Data on Tweets, Accounts Linked to Russian, Iran Ops

10m tweets by Russian and Iranian trolls released

The data set is made up of 3,841 accounts from the Russia-based Internet Research Agency, 770 accounts potentially from Iran.

The data: The data sets cover 4,611 accounts Twitter believes to be linked with misinformation campaigns originating in Russian Federation and Iran and include over 10 million tweets and more than two million images, GIFs, or videos.

"One main goal was to interfere in the United States presidential election and prevent Hillary Clinton's victory but it was also aimed at dividing polarised online communities in the USA, unifying support for Russia's worldwide interests and breaking down trust in U.S. institutions", wrote the authors.

The data disclosed onWednesday also shows that the operatives directing the Russian bot accounts used US-based businesses that allow users to relay content onto Twitter, such as IFTTT, RoundTeam and dlvr.it, in addition to Twitter products like TweetDeck, and the Twitter mobile apps for iPhone and Android.

The datasets can be downloaded on Twitter's Elections Integrity site.

Nimmo, an information defense fellow at the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab whose team was given a preview of the data in order to post their analysis with Twitter's announcement, said that for all the attention given to Russia's online influence in the USA ahead of the 2016 presidential election, he was surprised that the data showed that the "first targets and the first victims" were, in fact, Russian users.

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Twitter said it released the date to "improve public understanding of alleged foreign influence campaigns". But it now says it wants researchers to have full access to the data to help gain a better understanding of how such trolling operations work.

Twitter said it doesn't expect such information operations to stop and expects bad actors to continue to adapt to new technologies.

"The scale and scope of the Russian troll farm drastically outweighed the scale and scope of the Iranian troll farm", said Graham Brookie, the director and managing editor of the Digital Forensic Research Lab.

On the day of the Brexit vote, they tweeted posts with the hashtag ReasonsToLeaveEU more than 1,000 times.

"There has been a lot of misunderstanding on the IRA operation, notably because the public was working with bits and pieces of data", said Camille Francois, director of research for social media data analytics firm Graphika.

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