In another extraordinary development, on Friday, Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to Twitter’s CEO demanding that the company hand over personally identifying information related to “organic content” posted by Twitter users. The letter specifically requests all “organic content posted by Russia-connected users and targeted to any part of the United States, regardless of whether the individual or entity violated any Twitter policy.” Its definition of “Russia-connected users” is extremely broad, including any “person or entity that may be connected in some way to Russia.”
Twitter said it would donate its estimated $ million in advertising revenue since 2011 from RT to fund external research on how Twitter is used in elections, including abuse of the platform as a tool to automatically disseminate misinformation. The planned donation marks a shift in the company’s willingness to investigate Russia’s influence. “Like most companies, these platforms have little reason to support or encourage research that paints them in a negative light,” says Adam Sharp, Twitter’s former head of government, news and elections.