The Twitter application is seen on a phone screen August 3, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/File Photo
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Friday's election-interference indictment brought by Robert Mueller, the U.S. special counsel, underscores how thoroughly social-media companies like Facebook and Twitter were played by Russian propagandists.And it's not clear if the companies have taken sufficient action to prevent something similar from happening again.Thirteen Russians, including a businessman close to Vladimir Putin, were charged Friday in a plot to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election through social media propaganda. The indictment said the Russians' conspiracy aimed, in part, to help Republican Donald Trump and harm the prospects of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.Facebook thanked U.S. investigators for taking "aggressive action" and pointed out its own role in helping the investigation.The indictment confirms earlier findings from congressional investigations that Russian agents manipulated social media to promote social division by mimicking grassroots political activity. It also underscores that the problem wasn't just "bots" -- i.e., automated social-media accounts -- but human conspirators who fine-tuned propaganda and built online relationships with American activists.
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