Online news and social-networking service giant Twitter Inc. announced Thursday it would no longer allow two Russian media organizations to purchase advertising on the platform.
The move was “effective immediately” and affected all accounts associated with Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik.
Long accused of being Kremlin-operated propaganda engines, the news outlets named are both state-owned media organizations.
Twitter explained the decision revolved around the ongoing congressional probes of alleged Russian attempts to influence America’s 2016 presidential election.
“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,” read a press release from Twitter explaining the firm’s decision.
Twitter explained it intended to take $1.9 million in expected revenue from RT and Sputnik and use it to explore the use of its social media platform, primarily the political use and misuse of Twitter.
The move prompted a furious reaction from Russia, with Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova blasting the decision. “We see this as an aggressive move,” Zakharova told RIA Novosti.
Similarly, RT editor in chief Margarita Simonyan tweeted her response to the gesture, reminding the social-media organ it had offered generous benefits for additional purchases of advertisement prior to the November 2016 election.
How Twitter offered to “interfere” in US elections. For lots of $$. https://t.co/icV4cLZyT1
— Маргарита Симоньян (@M_Simonyan) October 27, 2017
While no longer allowed to advertise on the platform, both RT and Sputnik’s accounts will be allowed to remain active.
In related news, conservative political consultant Roger Stone has been reportedly banned from Twitter permanently after going on a explicit tirade against numerous American journalists, including CNN’s Jake Tapper, New York Times contributor Charles Blow and former Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein.
“In order to ensure that people feel safe expressing diverse opinions and beliefs, we do not tolerate behavior that crosses the line into abuse, including behavior that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence another user’s voice,” a Twitter spokesperson told the Hollywood Reporter.
Stone responded Sunday to a Politico inquiry, telling the news outlet he plans to sue Twitter over the suspension.
[BBC News] [The Telegraph] [BuzzFeed News] [Photo courtesy Reuters via The Express Tribune]