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Twitter criticised for “inadequate” response to Russian disinformation inquiry

Twitter has been accused of submitting a “completely inadequate” response to a parliamentary inquiry into Russian interference in British politics.

Damien Collins, MP and chair of the investigation, said the US social media firm’s submission “fails to answer the clear questions [we] asked them”.

Twitter identified just one account, @RT+com, which promoted Russian tweets during last year’s EU referendum campaign. RT paid around £750 to post six tweets, the social network said.

It responded to the DCMS select committee’s inquiry with a copy of its response to a separate investigation by the Electoral Commission into spending. But Collins’ inquiry addresses all Russian disinformation in the referendum, not just paid posts.

In a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Collins said: “Whilst the inquiry currently being conducted by the Electoral Commission is extremely important, it is completely separate and different in nature to the inquiry that my committee is undertaking.”

“The information you have now shared with us is completely inadequate,” he added. “In the letter I sent to you on 3 November I requested ‘that Twitter provides to the committee a list of accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency (IRA) and any other Russian linked accounts that it has removed and examples of any posts from these accounts that are linked to the United Kingdom.”

Facebook also responded to Collins’ questions with a copy of its response to the Electoral Commission. It identified just 72p of Russian advertising over the course of the referendum campaign.

Collins expressed his frustration with the Californian firm yesterday. “Facebook conducted its own research to identify tens of thousands of fake pages and accounts that were active during the French presidential election,” he said. “They should do the same looking back at the EU referendum and not just rely on external sources referring evidence of suspicious activity back to them.”

Collins has given Twitter until mid-January to provide a full response to the committee’s questions.