Tweets cracks down on ads by Ruskies news sites RT and Sputnik

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WASHINGTON—Twitter announced today it is going to ban advertising from RT plus Sputnik,  two Russian government possessed news organizations that U. S i9000. intelligence officials have linked to the Kremlin’s influence campaign in the 2016 political election.

The move, which was immediately denounced by Russian officials, is the most powerful step yet taken by any Oughout. S. social media company to attempt to suppress the influence of Russian condition propaganda on their platforms.

It arrives just a week before executives through Twitter, Facebook and Google are usually slated to testify before the United states senate Intelligence Committee where they are anticipated to face sharp criticism over their particular failure to move more aggressively in order to police covert Russian messaging targeted at the U. S. audience.

“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,” the company said in a blog post.   “We did not come to this decision lightly, and are taking this step now as part of our ongoing commitment to help protect the integrity of the user experience on Twitter.”

The two Russian companies aren’t banned from tweeting on the site, simply from purchasing advertising to promote their particular content.

Shortly after Twitter introduced the decision, Sputnik published an article quoting Nancy Zakharova, the spokeswoman for Russia’s foreign ministry, describing the proceed as an “aggressive step, prompted by the pressure from US intelligence services, aimed at blocking the activities of Russian media.”

RT’s editor in main, Margarita Simonyan, responded to Twitter’s announcement with a statement warning that American information outlets operating in Russia can face a crackdown as a result of the particular move.

“I never thought that Twitter is under the control of the US security services – it seemed like a conspiracy theory. But now Twitter appears to have admitted it,” Simonyan said to an eastern european state-owned news agency. “This is highly regrettable. It is particularly regrettable that now US media operating in Russia will feel the tender response of the Russian authorities.”

Earlier this particular month, Russian President Vladimir Putin said American outlets in his country would face a response “in kind” if Ruskies news organizations face pressure within the U. S.

“There will immediately be an answer,” Putin said

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks throughout a meeting with senior military officers within the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Thursday night, Oct. 26, 2017. (Photo: Alexei Nikolsky, Kremlin Pool Photo through AP)

Simonyan and RT also published plans they claim to have received from Twitter encouraging the company to buy advertising on the social media marketing platform. In a tweet aimed at Tweets CEO Jack Dorsey, Simonyan had written on Twitter:

“Hope @jack won’t forget to tell @congressdotgov how@Twitter pitched @RT_com to spend big $$s on US elex ad campaign.”  https://twitter.com/M_Simonyan/status/923519609269116928

Asked to respond, the Twitter spokesperson said via e-mail that the company would not comment “on our private conversations with any advertiser, even a former advertiser.” A source familiar with the company’s negotiations with RT said: “these kinds of conversations are industry standard pitching for any potential advertiser. It’s the job of any ad sales team to aggressively recruit and retain clients, and sometimes they use strong language in order to do so. Also, you’re seeing a very small slice” associated with Twitter’s communications with RT, incorporating that the Russian network’s “motivations may not be full transparency of our advertising relationship.”

An RT spokesperson, asked for comment, referred reporters to the post about Twitter’s tries to sell advertising on the site, but experienced no further comment.

The statement from Twitter comes less than fourteen days after Yahoo News published an in-depth report based on thousands of internal documents that detailed the inner workings associated with Sputnik.  The emails showed just how Sputnik staffers were instructed to promote the Kremlin’s agenda, and how several former staffers feared they were being used in order to gather intelligence for Moscow.  Yahoo Information has also reported Sputnik and RT are both under investigation by the Division of Justice for possible infractions of the Foreign Agents Registration Take action, a 1938 law requiring anyone engaged in foreign propaganda in the Oughout. S. to register with the Justice Division.

Twitter’s announcement offered little regarding how and why it arrived at its decision now, other than stating it had conducted an “internal investigation.” It did cite a report from the U. S. intelligence community final January that named RT and Sputnik as key players in Russia’s campaign in order to interfere in the 2016 U. S i9000. presidential election.

Rossiya Segodnya plus RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan attends a plenary session titled “The World of the Future: Moving Through Conflict to Cooperation” as part of the 14th annual meeting from the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi. Russia, Oct. 19, 2017. (Photo: Mikhail MetzelTASS via Getty Images)

“Early this year, the U.S. intelligence community named RT and Sputnik as implementing state-sponsored Russian efforts to interfere with and disrupt the 2016 Presidential election, which is not something we want on Twitter. This decision is restricted to these two entities based our internal investigation of their behavior as well as their inclusion in the January 2017 DNI report,” Twitter’s blog post said.

Along with obstructing ads from RT and Sputnik, Twitter pledged to take money this earned from RT and utilize the funds to finance research in to the company’s role in politics.

“Twitter has also decided to take the $1.9 million we are projected to have earned from RT global advertising since they became an advertiser in 2011 … and donate those funds 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 company’s blog post said.

Sputnik spokeswoman Beverly Hunt told Google News the outlet never ran marketing on Twitter.

“Sputnik has never used paid ads for promotion on Twitter.  Sputnik news channels are followed by people who are tired of the mainstream media and who are looking for a fresh perspective on the news,” said Quest.

The Twitter advertising ban to get RT and Sputnik comes as social media marketing companies have been facing mounting critique from Capitol Hill. After a personal briefing from Twitter executives final month, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the cleverness committee, said the company’s initiatives to curb Russian propaganda were “deeply disappointing” and “inadequate on every level.” 

Warner today called Twitter’s announcement “a positive step towards restoring the public’s trust.” But Clint W, a former FBI agent who paths Russia messaging on social media known as it “too little, too late” and questioned just how effective it would be. He noted that many Russian propaganda is not through overall ads, but through automated robots and trolls â€? who usually masquerade as American users and therefore are difficult to trace.

“This is partly a PR move,” said Asha Rangappa, another former FBI realtor who has investigated Russian propaganda initiatives and is now an associate dean from the Yale Law School. “They’ve already been under a lot of pressure. But I actually don’t think it’s a long term solution

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), accompanied by Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), gives a good update on the ongoing investigation straight into Russian involvement in the 2016 political election at the Capitol Building in Wa, Oct. 4, 2017. (Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)

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