Twitter Just Slapped a Ban on These Major Russian Advertisers

Twitter Just Slapped a Ban on These Major Russian Advertisers

Following Facebook's lead, Twitter only recently noted the presence of Russian agents on its platform - and their efforts to influence the 2016 US election.

US media reports also indicate Russians purchased similar ads on Google.

The San Francisco-based milliblogging giant said Thursday it would stop taking ads from two major Russian state-backed media outlets, Russia Today and Sputnik, effective immediately.

Russian state-owned television station RT says Twitter had pushed it to spend millions on advertising ahead of the 2016 US presidential election.

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.

RT and Sputnik condemned the move, and Moscow threatened retaliatory measures.

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Twitter said it will still allow RT, formerly called Russia Today, and Sputnik to remain as users on the platform, but they will not be eligible to buy ads.

RT editor Margarita Simonyan called Twitter's decision "highly regrettable", adding that it could lead to retaliatory measures against US news media.

"The main idea pitched by Twitter to RT was "to take a stand".

From now, Twitter is not interesting for me, and I cease to use its services", Konstantin Kosachev said as quoted by RT broadcaster.

The U.S. firm also said it would take the estimated $1.9 million it had earned from RT advertising since 2011 and use it to "support external research into the use of Twitter in civic engagement and elections, including use of malicious automation and misinformation, with an initial focus on elections and automation". "The more money RT spent, the bigger the reach to American voters that Twitter would provide", it said on its website.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the move an "aggressive step" which was the "result of pressure from some of the U.S. establishment and security services". "But now Twitter appears to have admitted it", Simonyan told RIA Novosti, via RT.

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