Twitter bans ads from two Russian govt-linked news sites

SAN FRANCISCO • Twitter is banning two Russian government-affiliated news sites from advertising on its platform.

The social network said on Thursday that its decision to block advertising from the sites stemmed from the conclusion of the US national intelligence report in January that said the Kremlin used the sites Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik, along with a far-flung network of "quasi-government trolls", to interfere in last year's presidential election in the United States. "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 firm said in a blog post.

Twitter's move may put pressure on Google and Facebook to pull similar advertising from their sites.

RT's YouTube channel has more than two million followers and claims to be the "most watched news network" on the video site. Its Facebook page has over four million likes and followers.

Twitter has said that accounts from RT and Sputnik may continue to tweet but now may not advertise.

RT responded to Twitter's decision in a blog post, saying that it had never violated any advertising rules on Twitter, used any bots or deliberately spread disinformation.

Sputnik's editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan called Twitter's decision "regrettable". In an e-mailed statement, Sputnik disputed that it had ever used advertising.

Twitter and other Silicon Valley firms are facing government scrutiny over the role they played in letting Russian disinformation spread on their platforms during the election. Lawyers from the company are scheduled to testify before Congress next Wednesday. Social media firms are facing potential new regulation over the disclosure of political advertising online.

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 28, 2017, with the headline 'Twitter bans ads from two Russian govt-linked news sites'. Print Edition | Subscribe