Twitter Bans Ads from Kremlin-Funded RT and Sputnik

Twitter Inc. said Thursday that it will no longer accept advertising from Sputnik and Russia Today, pointing to the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that the two Kremlin-funded news organizations were part a Russian government operation to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

State-sponsored attempts to "interfere with and disrupt" the election are "not something we want on Twitter," the San Francisco social media company said on its blog.

Twitter said it will donate the $1.9 million in advertising revenue it has obtained since 2011 from Russia Today to outside research about Twitter's use in "civic engagement and elections."

Sputnik and Russia Today, also known as RT, won't lose their ability to post to Twitter -- meaning they can continue using the service to circulate articles, videos and opinion pieces.

Twitter's move comes as social media platforms face increased scrutiny for their failure to stop bots, foreign governments and anonymous ads from spreading misinformation and propaganda. Twitter and Facebook have both pledged to increase transparency surrounding political ads.

Sputnik and Russia Today face pressure to register in the U.S. as foreign agents. Both say they are legitimate news-gathering organizations, and both fired back at Twitter on Thursday.

Sputnik published an article in which Editor in Chief Margarita Simonyan called Twitter's decision "regrettable." The article also quoted Russian President Vladimir Putin as saying his government would react to U.S. restrictions on Russian media "swiftly and symmetrically."

In a post published Thursday, Russia Today Deputy Editor in Chief Kirill Karnovich-Valua said the outlet "never pursued an agenda of influencing the U.S. election through any platforms, including Twitter." The article goes on to chronicle what it describes as Twitter's attempts to encourage Russia Today to commit to a major advertising initiative to help increase its U.S. audience during the 2016 election.

Twitter and Russia Today negotiated a media strategy that, according to...

Comments are closed.