Sarah Taylor

Former cybersecurity officials told Politico on Friday that Twitter reportedly deleted data critical to the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election cycle.

What did the officials say?

Speaking under the cover of anonymity, the officials told the website that they obtained evidence supporting the theory that Russia was involved in influencing the U.S. election.

The officials added that Twitter may have been one of Russia’s biggest tools with regard to the investigation.

How do officials think Twitter was used?

According to the report, unidentified users and bots were responsible for creating ad campaigns, using bogus hashtags, and pushing false news stories in order to sway the opinions of American voters.

What do the officials believe happened to the data?

The officials in question believe that, because pertinent data is no longer available, it was deleted by both users and Twitter.

One guideline in Twitter’s privacy policy stipulates that once a user deletes data — to include tweets, likes, and even accounts — they are required to remove it from their systems as well.

Why was this information so important?

Officials said that in being able to analyze the data provided by Twitter, it would open the door to possibilities that a “pattern of life behavior” could be established and may reveal cues as to how  Russia may have played a part in pushing “the narrative in a certain direction.”

Former FBI agent Clint Watts told Politico that this information is especially troubling because “the truth is they don’t know who is on their platform, or how bad people are doing bad things.”