Twitter Bars Ads From 2 Russian Media Orgs

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RT and Sputnik will be allowed to remain regular users of Twitter - in other words, to post with normal accounts - but they won't be allowed to pay to promote them.

The actions are justified with the United States administration's conclusion that the two media have "attempted to influence the United States presidential election in 2016 on behalf of the Russian government".

Twitter also announced a new arm this week called the Advertising Transparency Center, which will provide Twitter users with more information about the advertisements they're seeing, why they're seeing them, and tools to provide feedback.

Twitter has said that RT, a TV network funded by the Russian government, spent $274,100 in US ads in 2016.

When Twitter banned ads from Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik on Thursday, citing the outlets' reported attempts to interfere with last year's US election "on behalf of the Russian government", RT quickly responded with a denial.

Twitter will be joined by Google and Facebook in testifying before USA lawmakers on Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

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A person familiar with the matter said Twitter's conversations with Russia Today had been part of the industry standard of pitching any potential advertiser.

The decision is effective immediately, Twitter said.

Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for Russia's foreign ministry, said in a Facebook post that the ban was "an unprecedented attack" and a "gross violation" of free speech guarantees. "But now Twitter appears to have admitted it", Simonyan told RIA Novosti, via RT. "It is particularly regrettable that now U.S. media operating in Russia will feel the tender response of the Russian authorities".

The move comes after Twitter was roundly criticized for its handling of Russian ads, and its involvement in the Kremlin's election-meddling efforts by taking the ad money and for not reporting or tackling the paid-for pro-Russian propaganda on its platform.

RT has also been involved in a back-and-forth with the Justice Department, over whether it should register its American arm under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Twitter said it would donate the estimated $1.9m (£1.5m) it had earned from RT advertising "to support external research into the use of Twitter in civic engagement and elections".

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