back to article Twitter: We also made a shedload of cash from Russia's trolling during US White House race

Like Facebook before it, Twitter has acknowledged that, during the US presidential elections, it collected hundreds of thousands of dollars for ads supporting Russian media messaging, and that it has identified Twitter accounts tied to Facebook profiles known for promoting pro-Russia views. Or another way of putting it: …

  1. veti Silver badge

    Ads are just the tip of the iceberg

    It's the trolls that are chewing on the intestines of democracy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ads are just the tip of the iceberg

      Maybe we need some Bergen to sort the trolls out.

    2. An nonymous Cowerd

      whats worse than ads is NO ads?

      on a recent trip to UK I scanned all 600? channels on my Virgin Media cable feed to discover no source of news other than BBC, SKY or CNN. Where's RT on VM? No, seriously!

      I like laughing at RT propaganda as much as I like laughing at BBC propaganda, but on this scan last-month it seems that RT is not available. Rt was Russia Today and has been accused of being biased Russian state funded broadcasting, in as much as BBC is obviously also biased state funded broadcasting (ask a Scot!)

      At home here in Europe, I get all the unencrypted Freesat channels and RT is included, but not on (some) UK cable services - I'm trolling, nach, but I'm also serious that unless you occasionally glance at what the 'opponent' is propagandising - then it becomes so much harder to get out of your own propaganda bubble, should it even exist?

      BBC2 had a nice prog on yesterday about tourism in the taiga, looking for Tigers, but they spent half the program moaning about the FSB. I suppose that when/if RT or Perviy kanal films in UK they are also followed by the relevant agencies. Perhaps they are just banned as persona non-grata, like VM seems to do with an alternative, wacky, probably sometimes wrong, alternative point of view.

      what's twitter?

      1. graeme leggett

        Re: whats worse than ads is NO ads?

        As VM includes the terrestials, there was news available from BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and 5

        The news channels on Virgin Media (you need full package for all but Sky News is included at base) is

        BBC News

        Sky News

        BBC Parliament





        NDTV 24x7

        Al Jazeera English

        France 24 English


        1. An nonymous Cowerd

          Re: whats worse than ads is NO ads?

          Fine Graeme, but I still remain shocked that VM with its very high subscriber base in the UK does not have any news outlets that are outside of the billion dollar covert and overt 'public diplomacy' communications bubble.

          The list you gave, many of which require a subscription, still remain INSIDE the current news/views bubble! There are zero alternative voices in those broadcasters.

          So to quote a certain UK government yechnical department : - slide 1

          "control the communications channel" - seems that they are doing a great job!

          After the repeal of the Smith-Mundt Act, the gloves came off, possibly helping to result in today's

          mad confusion & furcups.

          I watch RT, much of it is unusual/annoying, made by the highly corrupt RU government, but it is valid to watch as it does sometimes report items that are on the gap propaganda that the broadcasters listed above typically manifest.

          I watch Turkish TRT world, an excellent station for all news (other than - of course concerning Turkey itself)

          I watch Saudi TV, a great counterbalance to the BBC/Al Jazeera from Qatar.

          worse for all the channels is that the next generation seem to watch zero tv programmes or news - I wonder how that will pan out! = control the internet, no, that would never happen!

    3. BillG

      Re: Ads are just the tip of the iceberg

      Twitter: We also made a shedload of cash from Russia's trolling during US White House race

      If I understand correctly, a shedload is more than a shitload, but less than a boatload?

  2. Youngone Silver badge

    Does anyone else find it odd that American businesses feel the need to appear in front of these pointless Senate committees?

    I wonder what would happen if Twitter answered every question with something like:

    "That's commercially sensitive and I will not answer".

    It all smells like political theatre to me.

    Don't get the idea that I have any affection for Twitter though. I still don't see what the point of it is.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      I wonder what would happen

      I wonder what would happen

      Contempt of Congress which in USA is a criminal offense and applies to the subpoenaed person - usually the CEO. While the C suite in USA can get away with anything short of murder, congress has introduced special rules for themselves. They actually can make it hurt.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the world is eating software

    if software can eat the world, the world can also eat back.

  4. Diogenes

    Considering how much it costs

    100k and 200k is a rounding error. According to Bloomberg, Hillary spent 1.84 Billion and Trump 646 million (yes the b and m are correct) .

    I am sure that spend of 3-400k made ALL the difference

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Considering how much it costs

      Well, the two miscreants mentioned spent it on commercial TV/Radio, etc. Twitter... even Facebook reaches a lot more folks per dollar spent. Since I don't do Twitter, Facebook, watch TV or do radio much might explain why I missed all the ads.

      1. Diogenes

        Re: Considering how much it costs

        Not all. They were also spending bigly (@ 14% according to Borrel so therefore @ 250 million) on social media advertising and according to citi farce-book got 2 out 5 dollars spent on online ads. Thus farcebook would have received some 100 million from both sides.

        Given these numbers, i wonder what those dasterdly russians did differently to have their 200k be sooooo much more effective than the 30 million hillary is said to have spent in the last month of the campaign

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Considering how much it costs

          Social media has a multiplicative effect that expensive TV ads don't. Most people tune those out during the election season, and many actively skip ads with their DVRs. That's mostly wasted money these days, I'm thinking.

          "Sponsored" content on Facebook that you have to pay for isn't as easy to ignore, but what really works is when someone can get stuff shared. Friends see something shared by their friends and inherently trust it more (assuming they trust that friend) and will re-share it themselves. You might pay $1000 to run some sponsored content but due to sharing and re-sharing get the same effect as if you'd paid Facebook $1 million.

          That's where the really crazy stuff (the lies, conspiracy theories, "fake news", etc. - i.e. the stock in trade of radio "shock jocks" like Alex Jones) is most impactful. People won't bother to engage with a story about Hillary's campaign bus getting bad mileage or Trump's plane killing a bird when it is landing, but the really juicy stuff gets their attention. Doesn't matter if it isn't true - social media isn't restricted by the rules that apply to stuff that runs on public airwaves.

          I expect we'll see campaigns move more and more to social media "grassroots" stuff. Instead of getting volunteers to knock on doors and hand out bumper stickers, tell them to share any positive news they see about their candidate, and negative news they see about their opponent on social media. Sure, they'll still run campaign ads on TV but those will probably get less negative - you want to seem like the nice guy in your public persona, and let your volunteers do the dirty work of destroying your opponent. They can share stories claiming their opponent is running a child sex ring out of a pizza shop because social media is the wild west, and that's so much effective than those negative ads on TV that always show a sepia tone photo of the opponent and just slant the truth really hard - but have to have some sort of connection with the truth.

          I expect Facebook to become effective unusable in early 2020 as a result - it almost might be worth shorting the stock then, because it'll turn so many people off that when they report their monthly active users in the US Wall Street won't like what it hears. Remember when MySpace was a thing, and then there was so much spam it became intolerable and everyone left? I think the same thing might happen to Facebook, though there isn't anywhere to go so people might just quit it for the year and come back after the next inauguration when the partisan shitstorm begins to die down.

          1. Old Yank

            Re: Considering how much it costs

            "...there isn't anywhere to go so people might just quit it..."

            Can you say SnapChat?

        2. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: Considering how much it costs

          Good targeting can be way more bang per buck effective than more scatter gun approaches on social media, in places like US (& UK) most of electorate irrelevant, a relatively small % swing the vote.

          Although some worth in focusing on those 100% behind your party / candidate (e.g. encouraging them to actually vote, a few nice memes to spread to their (potentially) similar viewed pals)

    2. veti Silver badge

      Re: Considering how much it costs

      Like I already said, the ads are the least of it.

      What's the value of having a team of 400 full-time professional trolls undermining your opponent and bolstering your team on every forum, in different personas?

      Yes, 100k is a rounding error - compared to what Putin spent on the election.

  5. frank ly


    "At the same time, the company all but acknowledged it can no longer manage miscreants on its own, by welcoming regulatory intervention."

    So, if a company can't manage something well, regulatory intervention will enable it to manage it well? Does this also involve writing off expenses for 'managing something' against tax?

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Logic?

      It's like smoking on a plane - one airline can't ban it because they are worried they will lose customers, but when the law bans it, everyone has to enforce the rule.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Free market

    If company X wants to spend $ advertising or bagging (no pun intended) product Y, then what's the big deal?

    Advertisers lie to customers in one way or another all the time. (AKA: Marketing)

    It's their money.

    PS: I am no fan of the Orangeutan.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Free market

      Free market it may be. For sour grapes.

      The Americans fear (they actually have no proof that this happened for real) that Our Friend The Bear did to them what they have been doing to Latin America since the 19th century and to the rest of the world since WW2.

      In the meantime Our Friend The Bear is laughing watching how the fear is eating them from the inside.

      The amount of money the Bear spent above board is a rounding error in the election spending. Hillary spend 1.5B if we do not count the primaries, with the primaries north of 2Bn. Trump spent less but also a substantial amount. 100K on facebook and twitter ads promoting RT news channels is a mosquito bite in the midst of a feeding frenzy on the savanna. It is however sufficient to put the bitten in paranoia mode - what did that mosquito have? Denge? Malaria? Or some unknown horrible disease.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Free market

        The Supreme Court has already ruled that, in contrast to most other democracies, there is no limit on how much can be spent on political ads. This is why spending by PACs (political action committees) dwarves that spent directly by the candidates themselves. The system is hence broken by design and whether it's the NRA, Mumsnet or the Russians doesn't really matter, unless donation and spending limits are introduced.

        1. Jaybus

          Re: Free market

          "The system is hence broken by design and whether it's the NRA, Mumsnet or the Russians doesn't really matter, unless donation and spending limits are introduced."

          Does it really matter? There seems to be way too much emphasis on these ads and Russian "influence". I remain unconvinced that any of that mattered to so great an extent that half of the US was brain washed into voting for Trump. Way too much credit is being given to the Russian propaganda efforts, as if Clinton didn't shoot herself in the foot with her own numerous shady actions.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Free market

      I am no fan of the Orangeutan and I am no fan of the Horsey.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's 'Kerr-ching!' in Russian?

    'Kerr-ching!' ?

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: What's 'Kerr-ching!' in Russian?


  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Titter can only redeem itself in one way

    Twitter can only redeem itself if it actually applies its rules to ALL accounts. If they applied the same rules to @realDonaldTrump as to the rest of their users, the account would have been closed even before he got elected.

    Just in case someone has a problem with comprehensive reading: I'm not suggesting special treatment of Trump, I'm asking to END special treatment.

  9. Mystic Megabyte

    A sad state of affairs

    This set me wondering if POTUS has ever done a days physical work in his life. Has he washed the dishes after a meal? Has he ever put his underwear in a washing machine? I somehow doubt that the lazy fat git has even seen a washing machine, that would be in the scullery with the servants.

    In case you think that I've had a cushy life here's a few of the back-breaking jobs that I've done:

    Making concrete blocks in a quarry

    Loading fish on a fish farm

    Milking 300 cows every morning (2 people)

    Driving a truck delivering gas bottles (solo)

    I could go on but that's enough.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: A sad state of affairs

      I am with ya. I have done fruit picking and agricultural work in my college and school days.

      I always giggle when I listen to ranting about "they (for a given value of they == mexicans, eastern europeans, etc) have taken our jobs" by some borderline obese slob over a pint in a pub.

      He will not survive a day of proper agricultural work - even easy one like let's say picking plums for supermarket. Quota per head is 350kg. You pick the stuff which is reachable by hand (no mechanization), then it is the guys' job to shake off the rest off the tree. The more ladies you have in your team the more trees to shake. If you have 5, you are looking at shaking off more than a ton per day, every day for up to 40 days as long as the season lasts. I literally passed out on the tree from exhaustion once and fell off it. And that is an easy one - I am not talking about the really nasty jobs here like picking apples (the f*** things bruise just by thinking about them) or god forbid rose petals for cosmetics and pharmaceuticals where you have to start at 3:30 am every day.

      It is valid not just for the Orangutang, but the majority of his (and other similar populist types') supporters too. They scream: "they took our jobs" while most of them would never do the immigrant's job in the first place.

    2. disgruntled yank Silver badge

      Re: A sad state of affairs

      I doubt that he has. But numbers of much better heads of state have managed to have equally little to do with physical labor.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Aren't only western arms manufacturers allowed to do that?

    Or US airlines after a hurricane?

    Wasn't Queen Theresa saying only yesterday how wonderful capitalism is? And you dare to disagree?

    /sarcasm off.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The BBC is strongly linked to the UK government,

    and is seen as a relatively influential mouthpiece for them. The UK regime also funds them.


  12. John 104


    As in, where is it?

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Outrage!

      It's in the White House ... and it's about almost everything these days.

  13. far2much4me

    It Seems Poetic

    After all the accusations by the Left that the Russians interfered with the election, it somehow seems poetic that Facebook and Twitter, in the heart of Left leaning Silicon Valley, in the heart of Left leaning California, should be the means the Russian used. All due to capitalist greed, too.

  14. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    Is there a story?

    Twitter says that RT advertised RT stories. In the statement, it does not say what these stories were, or whether they in any way had to do with one side or the other in the election.

  15. Florida1920

    "I love the uneducated!"

    Trump said something like that during the campaign. I know it's naive, but the people who were swayed by Russia's tweets and FB ads were naive, too. They drank the Kool-Aid, from several other sources as well, and Trump got elected.

    I mean, yeah, using Twitter and Facebook to steer an election is bad, but what about Fox "News?" Was there any greater propaganda tool for Trump? Is there now? We have a dolt for a president, and he was elected by dolts. If you somehow could turn off Twitter and Facebook tomorrow, the dolts would still see him as the New Messiah. That's where the problem lies.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: "I love the uneducated!"

      Meanwhile, the Saudis paid for 20% of Hillary's campaign:

      "The Federal Election Commission reports that Hillary Clinton raised over $211.78 million for her 2016 presidential race with 20 percent of that sum being $42.35 million."


      Talk about foreign influence, eh!? I wonder what they expected in return? Here's more:

      1. Florida1920

        Re: "I love the uneducated!"

        @Stephen Battleware

        "Meanwhile, the Saudis paid for 20% of Hillary's campaign:"

        Ummm, from one of your links:

        Jordan says hack led to posting of 'false news' that Saudi funds Clinton

        Jordan's official news agency said on Tuesday that it was hacked when, over the weekend, a story briefly appeared on its website that said Saudi Arabia is a major funder of Hillary Clinton's campaign to become the next president of the United States.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "I love the uneducated!"

          While people might claim bits of fake news here 'n there, It's not fake news that the Saudis funded Hillary. It's well documented (regardless of the Jordan fake news over one particular donation). Moreover, her "foundation" has taken in at least 2 billion, at least HALF of which from foreign interests:

          And millions and millions specifically from the Saudis:

          e.g.: "Foreign funding to US political campaigns is illegal. However, Saudi Arabia has donated heavily to the Clinton Foundation, a charity set up by the former president. In 2008, the Clinton Foundation disclosed receiving between $10 million and $25 million from the Gulf monarchy"

          Wikileaks had something to say to:

          1. Florida1920

            Re: "I love the uneducated!"

            @Stephen Battleware


            Now you're quoting Russia Today? Are you sure you aren't really Steve Bannon?

  16. Sssss

    Hey, can I have a Sig that says:

    "Can't we have headlines that actually tells us what the articles are about, or a serious viewing mode, where each author is responsible for supplying a serious title, or get fired?" everytime I post, so I don't have to repeat myself?

  17. Sssss

    It is about the trend to private governance of our lives, vetting, making choices for us and controlling us, for their commercial/ideological advantage. Our only choice is whom we can get away with, to controll us. Bleak. And private government has been tightening the noose so that there is less and less individual freedom of choice. Look at what happened in Venezuela, where the water governance was sold to a private foreign company. Who then proceeded to find creative innovative ways to tax the people, charging them for water that rained on their properties (I think that included houses and apartments). The maximum money you can get from a scheme is the maximum you can exploit, to the point that people have no real options, except to work and pay, modern day slavery. Not to work, and not to have things to pay, also becomes a debt. This is because the real reason is to keep maximising benefit flowing upwards from real productivity further down.

    In Venezuela's case, the private sector had set up treaties where they demanded compensation for loss of the reclaimed water rights. Another old example was Haiti, where it was liberated from slavery but then taxed for the losses for a very very very long time. So, people there, maybe from kidnap, were taxed over this time, for reclaiming their freedom, without compensation. But the chain of kidnappers were not arrested or shot, but compensated under more forced conditions on the victims.

    If you think real governments are neglectful, private government are so neglectful they tend towards downright treasoness.

    In this case a company should report international espionage, and if they can clearly afford it, stamp it out with or without government help.

    Now, the US's current issues are at a certain persons feet, if she hadn't insisted on being president, and rolling over Bernie Sanders, people in power might have chosen a different opponent. When somebody's country men and that country's greatest enemy, would rather support somebody they don't like than you, what does that say?

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