In a blog post this morning, Twitter's Jack Dorsey explains why the social media company is banning RT and Sputnik from advertising on their platform...
Twitter has made the policy decision to off-board advertising from all accounts owned by Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik, effective immediately. 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. 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.
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. 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.
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, which includes the $274,100 in 2016 U.S.-based advertising that we highlighted in our September 28 blog post, 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. We will have more details to share on this disbursement soon.
Notably, the "off-board"-ing move comes less than a week before the company will testify on Russian election meddling on Capitol Hill, where he'll join colleagues from Google and Facebook.
RT is not taking this lying down, asking an awkward question that we suspect will also get asked next week in Congress...
We are sure this move will please Mark Warner, but the bigger questions are how will Putin respond, and whether Facebook and Google (which owns YouTube) are likely to follow Twitter's freedom-of-speech-denying lead.