Twitter faces more pressure over Russian influence on Brexit vote after more accounts identified

Lynsey Barber
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More accounts linked to Russia tweeting about Brexit have been uncovered (Source: Getty)

Pressure is growing on tech giant Twitter after further revelations about the extent of Russia-linked tweets during the Brexit vote last year.

Researchers have identified a vast swathe of messages sent by accounts in the country in a co-ordinated manner, The Times reported.

More than 150,000 accounts on the social network posted around 45,000 messages about Brexit during a 48 hour period, according to scientists at Swansea and Berkeley universities in a paper seen by the newspaper.

Read more: Was the PM right to call out Russian attempts to influence UK politics?

And researchers at the University of Edinburgh identified more than 400 accounts operated by an agency linked to the Russian government that attempted to influence UK politics, the Guardian reports. They were among more than 2,000 accounts suspended by Twitter in the US, where the issue of Russian influence on the US election via social media is being investigated by lawmakers.

A similar number were identified by academics at the Oxford Internet Institute, Sky News reported.

The research came just a day after the Prime Minister accused the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of "sowing discord in the West", and adds to growing evidence of the platform being used by Russia during political events.

Last week, a Russia-based Twitter account was identified as being behind the spread of a viral image in the wake of the attacks on Westminster Bridge last year.

Damian Collins, chair of the commons select committee for digital, culture, media and sport, renewed his calls for Twitter to release the extent of Russian influence on the platform.

The Conservative MP for Folkestone and Hythe told the Guardian: “What is at stake is whether Russia has constructed an architecture which means they have thousands of accounts with which they can bombard [us] with fake news and hyper-partisan content. We need to understand how widespread it is and what the impact is on the democratic process."

He has previously written to Twitter boss Jack Dorsey to release information.

A similar demand was also issued to Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg.

Read more: Trump u-turns on Russia meddling: "I believe our intelligence agencies"

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