Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Win McNamee/Getty Images) Rep. Adam Schiff (Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Authentic American accounts, not “Russian bots,” drove the contentious #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag to the top of Twitter’s trending list, the Daily Beast reported, citing internal Twitter sources.
The revelation comes the same day a letter to Twitter and Facebook by two Democrat lawmakers asked the social media giants’ CEOs to intervene on their behalf and suppress the spread of the hashtag.
But an anonymous source told the Daily Beast that Twitter’s internal analysis has thus far indicated that American users are driving the hashtag’s popularity.
The #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag was introduced by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) late on Thursday, Jan. 18, and spread like wildfire on Twitter, jumping to the top of the trending list. The hashtag’s message calls on members of the House Intelligence Committee to release a potentially devastating memo that details abuse of government surveillance against President Donald Trump.
The hashtag dominated Twitter conversations for days even after the social media platform’s managers removed it from the trending list. On Friday, after the tag was introduced, 65 House Republicans sent a letter to the House Intelligence Committee asking for the letter to be released. Those candidates represent an estimated 46 million Americans. Many of the representatives sent out the hashtag on Twitter.
At the heart of the Democrats’ claim that “Russian bots” are driving the popularity of the #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag is an assessment by Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD), an organization that tracks 600 Twitter accounts it claims are connected to the Russian government or repeat its news.
Those accounts used the #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag approximately 500 times during a 48 hour period surveyed by ASD, a minuscule portion of the trend considering that by Friday the hashtag was used at least 184,000 times, less than 24 hours after being introduced on Thursday. That’s more than double the second most popular tag at the time.