House Dems Want More Information About A Twitter Profile Reportedly Behind Covington Fiasco

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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Democratic lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee are asking Twitter to provide more information about a suspicious account that reportedly pushed a viral video about the incident Friday between high school students and American-Indian activists.

Twitter suspended an account called @2020fight that posted a caption and a minute-long video of the confrontation between the Covington High School students and American-Indian activists. Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia told The Huffington Post Wednesday his office contacted Twitter regarding the video.

The demand for more information comes off the heels of a CNN report Tuesday showing the original video, which was tweeted out Friday, was viewed at least 2.5 million times and was retweeted roughly 14,400 times. It did not show what happened before the boy’s confrontation with American-Indian activist Nathan Phillips. (RELATED: Did A Covert Misinformation Campaign Help Promote Media’s False Covington Narrative?)

The account claimed to belong to a California teacher named Talia, but the profile picture matched that of a Brazilian model. It had an unusually high number of followers and tweets and posted an inconsistent type of political message, according to CNN’s report. Twitter’s rules and policies forbid users from creating “fake and misleading accounts.”

A student from Covington Catholic High School stands in front of Native American Vietnam veteran Nathan Phillips in Washington, U.S., in this still image from a January 18, 2019 video by Kaya Taitano. Kaya Taitano/Social Media/via REUTERS

Democrats are worried the viral video might be a harbinger for things to come, especially as the party prepares for the 2020 presidential election.

Russian operatives through a company called the Internet Research Agency spread messages through YouTube, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine and Google+, along with Facebook and Twitter to rile up tensions between Americans prior to the 2016 election. The black community was targeted “extensively with dozens” of Facebook pages and Instagram post.

There is disagreement about the degree with which the ads swayed opinion during that election. Most of the ads did not focus exclusively on then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump or then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and the ad sales amounted to a mere $100,000. It was a paltry sum during a campaign where both sides spent tens of millions of dollars.

Democratic operatives were also reportedly behind a similar ploy during Alabama’s 2017 special election. A handful of Obama-era officials allegedly helped create thousands of Twitter accounts posing as Russian bots in order to boost Democratic Alabama Sen. Doug Jones in the December 2017 special election by linking his Republican opponent, Roy Moore, to Russian influence campaigns.

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