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Twitter bars ads from Russia's RT, Sputnik

Twitter bars ads from Russia's RT, Sputnikā€

In a post published Thursday, Russia Today Deputy Editor in Chief Kirill Karnovich-Valua said the outlet "never pursued an agenda of influencing the USA election through any platforms, including Twitter".

"This decision was based on the retrospective work we've been doing around the 2016 U.S. election and the USA intelligence community's conclusion that both RT and Sputnik attempted to interfere with the election on behalf of the Russian government", Twitter said in a statement.

Last month Twitter told lawmakers it found some 200 accounts linked to the same Russian groups that bought $100,000 worth of ads on Facebook to sow political unrest and manipulate USA voters during the presidential election.

In a show of good faith, Twitter also said it plans to donate the estimated $1.9 million in ad revenue that it has taken from RT and Sputnik since 2011.

This breaking news story is being updated as more information emerges - please refresh the page for the most recent version.

General counsels for Twitter, Facebook and Google will testify on November 1 before public hearings of the Senate and House intelligence committees on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election. Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who are co-sponsoring a bill to regulate political advertising on the internet, both issued statements calling the new ad rules a good "first step", in Warner's words, but said their bill would go forward as written regardless of Twitter's internal guidelines. A former Twitter employee said the sales pitch to RT is similar to what the company uses to lure advertisers to Twitter, which has struggled to turn a profit.

Twitter said it made the call after taking a closer look at activity on its platform during the 2016 USA presidential election.

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The company also vowed this week that it would launch an "industry-leading" transparency site about who buys ads on its service and what messages are involved.

Twitter will meet with Congress and members of the Senate Intelligence Committee on November 1 regarding these issues.

On Oct. 19, USA lawmakers, alarmed that foreign entities used the internet to influence last year's election, introduced legislation to extend rules governing political advertising on broadcast television, radio and satellite to also cover social media.

In September, Facebook reports that "inauthentic accounts" purchased around 3,000 ads.

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.

No other accounts are affected by the decision, according to the blog post.



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