On Thursday, Twitter announced that it was immediately banning all advertisements from RT and Sputnik. The change in policy comes just one week before representatives from Twitter are scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding how the foreign nation was able to exploit the social media platform during the 2016 Presidential election.
As reported by Business Insider, the social media company announced the change on its blog, saying, “Twitter has made the policy decision to off-board advertising from all accounts owned by Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik, effective immediately.”
The statement continued, “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.”
While the two news agencies will be barred from advertising on Twitter, they will be able to remain “organic users” on the platform, allowing them to keep their accounts as long as they act “in accordance with the Twitter rules.”
RT responded to the policy change with a statement published on its own website, which claimed it “never violated any rules with advertising on Twitter” and “has never spread any sort of deliberate misinformation.”
Sputnik stated that the organization “has never used paid for promotion on Twitter.”
According to Sputnik’s press office, “Sputnik new channels are followed by people who are tired of the mainstream and who are looking for an alternative perspective on the news.” On Sputnik’s website, the news agency said, “Twitter has so far refused to provide” Sputnik with additional details regarding the ban.
Last month, RT stated that the US Department of Justice had asked the news agency to register as a foreign agent. Around the same time, Yahoo reported that the FBI had interviewed one of Sputnik’s former reporters while investigating whether the organization was in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Next week, Twitter representatives, as well as representatives from Google and Facebook, are set to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding how Russia used the platform as a method for spreading propaganda and disinformation during the 2016 Presidential election.
Sen. Mark Warner, the vice chairman of the committee, stated that the first interview Twitter representatives had with the committee was “deeply disappointing” and “frankly inadequate.”