Twitter just booted Russian media ads offline

Randall Padilla
October 29, 2017

Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik, which have spent a combined $1.9m (£1.4m) on Twitter adverts, were blacklisted after an internal investigation into the two, following USA intelligence reports saying they were part of a Russian effort to disrupt last year's vote.

In jettisoning paid content from RT and Sputnik, Twitter cited American intelligence agencies' conclusion that the two organizations were part of a sweeping effort directed by Russian President Vladimir Putin to undermine the 2016 presidential election.

Twitter has fallen victim to "deep prejudice" as to the situation with RT and Sputnik and has set a precedent for "unequal treatment" of its clients, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has stated.

Facing criticism over Russian propaganda on its platform, Twitter today announced that it will ban two media outlets with ties to the Russian government from its ad system.

According to Twitter's September disclosure, RT spent $274,100 on 1,823 promoted tweets that targeted the USA last year, though this tally included all ads, not just those dealing with election-related messages.

Twitter calculated that it received approximately $1.9 million from global advertising since 2011, including $274,100 in marketing expenditures in 2016.

RT has also called Twitter's ban a "coordinated attack on Russian media and freedom of speech".

"It is clear that the obstruction of the Russian media, including through the arsenal of intelligence services, shows a flagrant violation by the United States of America of both worldwide and domestic legislation guaranteeing freedom of expression", spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a Facebook post.

Russia Today and Sputnik will be allowed to retain their Twitter accounts. Mark Warner, said earlier this month that the committee's first interview with Twitter representatives was "deeply disappointing" and "frankly inadequate".

The pitch RT published on Friday shows Twitter proposing a deal that specifically included a $1.5 million budget for boosting RT's exposure on the platform during the USA election campaign.

"RT and Sputnik may remain organic users on our platform, in accordance with the Twitter Rules", the company said.

However, Twitter also said it might report a profit in the upcoming fourth quarter. The policy change comes one week before Twitter representatives are set to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee about how Russian Federation exploited the platform during the election.

The RT post included screenshots it said were from a Twitter presentation.

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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