Twitter Tooks Months To Close A Russian Troll Account Masquerading As A GOP Official

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Facebook gets the brunt of bad press over fake news, and with reason. But Twitter has a role to play in the spread of propaganda as well, and a recent report reveals that when it comes to stopping it, the social network drags its feets.

Buzzfeed has an in-depth look at the tale of one Twitter bot, a Russian troll account, Ten_GOP, pretending to represent the Tennessee GOP. Granted, Tennessee’s GOP has members such as Stacey Campfield, but that’s an outlier @Ten_GOP pretended was the norm:

Some of its tweets were deliberately outrageous, the archive shows, such as one in December 2016 that claimed that unarmed black men killed by police officers deserved their fate. It also trafficked in deliberate fake news, claiming just before it was shut down that a photo of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ NBA championship parade was actually a crowd waiting to hear Donald Trump speak.

Still, easy to shut down, right? The Tennessee GOP clearly knows who’s doing what and what a fake account is. But despite reporting it three separate times, the state party couldn’t get the account shut down. In the meantime, it became popular among far-right Twitter followers, and was the source of not a little outrage.

That Twitter handles abuse poorly is hardly a secret. It’s so notorious for refusing to actually enforce its own policies, it’s taken having them literally put on the sidewalk outside its headquarters for the company to do anything about abusive tweets and accounts. And even supposed new tools have done little to curtail the company’s abuse problems. But it’s a bit surprising that even state political parties can’t get impersonators booted from the site, especially when propaganda and fake news are such commonplace concerns.

What this boils down to, really, is don’t trust an account that’s not verified. And even then, ask yourself what the motives of that account might be.

(Via Buzzfeed News)