Twitter pulls RT, Sputnik advertising

Twitter pulls RT, Sputnik advertising
Posted at 12:15 PM, Oct 26, 2017

Twitter has pulled all advertising bought by Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik on its platform after concluding that both news organizations attempted to interfere with the 2016 presidential election on behalf of Russia.

"This decision was based on the retrospective work we've been doing around the 2016 U.S. election and the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that both RT and Sputnik attempted to interfere with the election on behalf of the Russian government," Twitter said in a statement.

RT and Sputnik accounts will be allowed to continue producing content on Twitter, but can no longer advertise on the social network. Additionally, Twitter said it would donate the $1.9 million of ad revenue it has received from RT to external research into Twitter's role in civic engagement and elections.

The announcement comes one week before a public hearing on Capitol Hill in which Twitter, Facebook and Google will address the roles they inadvertently played in Russia's efforts to meddle in American politics.

RT and Sputnik are both Russian state-owned media organizations. In January, an intelligence community assessment said both networks had been used as part of a Russian influence campaign aimed at denigrating Hillary Clinton and undermining the integrity of the 2016 presidential election.

Twitter said it made its decision about RT and Sputnik based on its own internal research and those companies inclusion in the January 2017 intelligence report.

Responding to the announcement on Twitter, RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said RT was "an exemplary @Twitter partner," then took a shot at its chief executive, Jack Dorsey, who she said had encouraged RT to buy ads around the 2016 election.

"Hope @jack won't forget to tell @congressdotgov how @Twitter pitched @RT_com to spend big $$s on US elex ad campaign."

Simonyan included in her tweet a picture that appeared to show a proposal for RT advertising on Twitter.

An RT spokesperson also sent CNN a link to an RT article published Thursday headlined, "Revealed: How Twitter pushes RT to spend big on 2016 US election."

In response, a Twitter spokesperson told CNN: "We do not have any comment on our private conversations with any advertiser, even a former advertiser."