Twitter has released data sets on all accounts and content associated with election interference operations found on its service since 2016.
The data: The data sets cover 4,611 accounts Twitter believes to be linked with misinformation campaigns originating in Russia and Iran and include over 10 million tweets and more than two million images, GIFs, or videos.
Twitter claims 3,841 of the accounts originate from Russia’s Internet Research Agency, a “troll factory” based in St. Petersburg and linked to Russian intelligence. It says it hopes to encourage more independent research and investigation into misinformation campaigns on its platform by releasing this data to the public.
Why? Twitter, along with Facebook, was caught out by the scandal around foreign interference that erupted after the 2016 US presidential election. Both companies have been scrambling to win back trust ever since, but this is the first time either has released raw data on this scale.
Timing: It’s notable that this announcement comes as the US midterm elections heave into view. Last week, Twitter suspended 1,500 accounts associated with the NPC trolling campaign, which has seen right-wing internet users create fictional liberal personas with gray cartoon avatars. Baffled? The New York Times has a handy explainer here.