A powerful British MP just savaged Twitter over its
response to questions about Russian meddling in
Twitter said only one Russian account spent money on EU
referendum-related posts on the platform last year.
It follows reports that thousands of Russian-linked
Twitter bots tweeted about the referendum in the days leading
up to June 2016 the vote.
Damian Collins MP called Twitter’s response “completely
A powerful British MP has slammed Twitter for its “completely
inadequate” response to questions about Russian meddling in the
EU referendum last year.
Damian Collins, chair of the UK’s Digital, Culture, Media, and
Sport Select Committee (DCMSC), is leading an inquiry into fake
news and has called on Twitter, Facebook, and Google to disclose
the activity of Russian actors on their platforms during Brexit.
Twitter responded to Collins on Wednesday, revealing that it had
so far identified @RT_com — run by Kremlin-funded broadcaster RT
— as the only account “which promoted referendum-related content”
in the three months up to the Brexit vote.
It said RT spent $1,031.99 (£768) on six referendum-related
Twitter ads during that period, all promoting the broadcaster’s
coverage of the vote, which took place in June last year. Twitter
also shared this information with the Electoral Commission, which
is investigating the issue in parallel with the DCMSC.
But Collins was not satisfied by the reply, given the evidence of
systematic Russian interference on Twitter. A number of British
academics have found that thousands of Russian-linked
Twitter bots tweeted about the referendum in the days leading up
to the vote.
In a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Thursday, the
Conservative MP said:
“The information you have now shared with us, in the form of a
copy of your response to the Electoral Commission, is completely
“It seems odd that so far we have received more information about
activities that have taken place on your platform from
journalists and academics than from you.
“If Twitter is serious about cooperating with the work of this
Committee and tackling the spread of disinformation then you
should provide me with a full response to the clear questions
that I set out.”
Collins expects a response from Twitter by mid-January next year.
Collins’ letter to Twitter comes
one day after Facebook told the UK’s Electoral Commission
that a Russian-backed agency spent $1 (75p) on ads that were seen
by 200 people in Britain at most.
Collins accused Facebook of doing “no work” to look for Russian
activity in the Brexit vote beyond that of the Internet Research
Agency, which had already been active in the US presidential
Here is Twitter’s letter to Damian Collins:
And Collins’ reply:
Damian Collins MP/House of