Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Twitter Tolerates Russian Trolls Over Pornbots, EU’s Ansip Says

By Aoife White

  • Ansip says colleagues reluctant to blame Russia for fake news
  • EU is seeking ways to stem disinformation on the internet

Twitter Inc. seems to tolerate Russian troll accounts more than pornbots, the European Union’s digital policy chief told reporters.

Andrus Ansip, the European Commission’s vice-president for digital issues, complained about the amount of Russian propaganda and nude photos among his 47,000 Twitter followers at a press briefing.

“Maybe 50 percent of my followers, they are Russian trolls,” he said. “Twitter is dealing with those naked followers quite seriously but not so seriously with Russian trolls,” he said. “To ban naked people and not to ban Russian trolls, it’s also quite strange.”

EU officials are reluctant to blame Russia for disinformation, Ansip said ahead of presenting a proposal to curb the spread of fake news.

“There are some kind of debates here inside of our building either to name Russia or not,” he said at the briefing in the European Commission’s headquarters. Some officials didn’t want to single out Russia and wanted to include other countries “but unfortunately nobody is able to name those others. So this is a problem.”

Ansip is Estonia’s representative at the European Commission. Estonia blames the Kremlin for a cyber assault 10 years ago that disabled government, media and banking websites for hours. Russia denies involvement.

The EU authority on Thursday proposed measures to fight the spread of fake news online, calling on platforms “to decisively step up their efforts to tackle online disinformation.” It wants this to happen through self-regulatory tools and cooperation between industry and companies to create a code of practice on disinformation.