Two Democrats in the U.S. Congress have called on Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) to conduct investigations over concerns that Russians are once again campaigning on their platforms in a bid to halt Robert Mueller’s ongoing probe. In a letter to Twitter and Facebook’s chief executives, Representative Adam Schiff and Senator Dianne Feinstein asked for urgent assistance in the wake of what they believe to be a disinformation campaign.
The two lawmakers asked for information with regards to the alleged Russian manipulation campaign which is using the #releasethememo hashtag. This is in reference to a memo authored by Republicans and which is critical of the special counsel’s ongoing probe into the role Russia played in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Alliance for Securing Democracy
In their letter to the CEOs of the two social media firms Schiff and Feinstein cited evidence obtained by Alliance for Securing Democracy which claims that the #releasethememo hashtag is linked to the Kremlin. The letter written by the lawmakers is bound to raise pressure on Twitter and Facebook as they make efforts to prevent the proliferation of ‘fake news’ on their platforms.
Last week Twitter disclosed that more accounts with links to a Kremlin-backed troll farm, Internet Research Agency, had been discovered. According to Twitter tweets from the said accounts had engaged with approximately 680,000 users of the microblogging platform in the United States. Over at Facebook the chief executive officer and chairperson, Mark Zuckerberg, had earlier in the year announced that he had resolved to fix Facebook as previous attempts at weeding out fake news had not succeeded in a significant way.
The concerns of the Democrats over an alleged new disinformation campaign by Russia comes in the wake of Twitter’s chief operating officer, Anthony Noto, leaving the social media company to become the CEO of Social Finance Inc, an online lender. Analysts viewed it as a blow for Twitter.
“In his absence, we believe the company will need to elevate the visibility of another key operating executive to address investors, as we believe Twitter continues to face significant challenges in its turnaround strategy,” an analyst at Wells Fargo, Peter Stabler, wrote in a client note.
On Tuesday shares of Twitter fell by 2.53% to close the day at $22.75 per share.