Senators ask social media execs to investigate “ReleaseTheMemo” hashtag

Enlarge / Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), center, at a November hearing on Russia's use of social media in the 2016 election. Feinstein and California congressman Adam Schiff have called on Facebook and Twitter to account for Russian troll's use of the #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag to influence opinion on the Mueller investigation into the Trump presidential campaign. (credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congressman Adam Schiff, the ranking Democratic Party members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, sent a joint letter to the executives of Facebook and Twitter yesterday urging them to further delve into ongoing Russian influence campaigns on their platforms around the "ReleaseTheMemo" hashtag. The hashtag references a memo written by House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes detailing alleged abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by the FBI. WikiLeaks' Julian Assange offered on Twitter to pay anyone who leaked the memo to him.

According to a social media tracking project by the German Marshall Fund's Alliance for Securing Democracy, a significant part of the support on social media for declassification of Nunes' memo has come from accounts controlled by Russia-backed "troll" accounts—some of them automated "bots" that promote other posts for propaganda purposes.

The Alliance for Securing Democracy, the organization behind the social media tracking site Hamilton 68, reported last Friday that real-time data showed that #ReleaseTheMemo was largely being used by accounts identified as controlled by Russian influence campaigns.

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