Twitter shuts out Russia Today and Sputnik from advertising

Twitter has announced that it is banning two Russian media companies, Sputnik and Russia Today (RT), from its advertising platform after finding that both had used the social network to influence the US election on the Russian governments behalf.

“This decision was based on the retrospective work weve been doing aroudn the 2016 US election and the US intelligence communitys conslusion that both RT and Sputnik attempted to interfere with the election on behalf of the Russian government,” said a Twitter spokesperson in the announcement.

“This decision is restricted to these two entities based on internal investigation of their behaviour as well as their inclusion in the January 2017 DNI report. This decision does not apply to any other advertisers. RT and Sputnik may remain organic users on our platform, in accordance with the Twitter Rules.”

In addition to banning the two companies from its advertising platform, Twitter is donating the $1.9m (£1.45m) it is projected to have earned from RT global advertising to support external research into the use of Twitter in civic engagement and elections, including use of malicious automation and misinformation. The $1.9m total dates back to when RT became an advertiser in 2011, and includes the $274,100 in 2016 US-based advertising that was highlighted in an earlier report on possible Russian influence.

In response to the banning, the Russian government has attacked both Twitter and the US goverment, with Maria Zakharova, director of the infomation and press department at Russias Ministry of Foreign Affairs posting a statement on Facebook and Twitter.

“We see this as annother aggressive step aimed at blocking the activities of Russian TV channel Russia Today and it is the result of pressure from part of the American establishment and special services,” said Zakharova.