What just happened? Hours after special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russian military intelligence officers for hacking into the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in 2016, Twitter announced it had banned two Moscow-linked accounts in response.
The 29-page indictment lists actions such as phishing attacks, money laundering, and attempts to break into state election boards carried out by Russian agents as they looked to sabotage Hilary Clinton’s election campaign.
The two accounts banned by Twitter in the wake of the indictment—DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0—are alleged to have been controlled by Russian agents and were used to leak emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in an attempt to influence the 2016 election.
A joint statement from October 2016 by the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence accused the Russian government of being behind the attacks and subsequent leaks. It referenced DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0, so it’s not as if their involvement has just become known. The indictment also claims that Guccifer 2.0 provided documents to a US congressional candidate about his opponent and accuses the spies of stealing information of 500,000 US voters.
Some are questioning why Twitter waited until now to suspend the accounts. The company told the New York Daily News that the suspensions were for “being connected to a network of accounts previously suspended for operating in violation of our rules.’
"We're reviewing our policies in light of this and expect to make updates soon," Twitter told the New York Times' Jim Rutenberg. "We recognize that to promote healthy conversation we need to be responsive to ways the platform is being misused and we are committed to that here and everywhere."
US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said the defendants named in the indictment worked for Russia's GRU intelligence service. He added that President Trump had been briefed on its contents.