Twitter bans two Russian news agencies from advertising on its site

Facing pressure to do more to protect the integrity of U.S. elections, Twitter on Thursday said it is barring Russia Today and Sputnik from advertising on its site.

“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,” the company said in a statement.

The two media outlets can still use the platform to post content.

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The move by Twitter comes days before the company is scheduled to testify before House and Senate intelligence committee members about Russia-linked ads and accounts.

Russia Today said it never violated Twitter’s advertising rules and claimed that the tech firm pushed it to purchase a large amount of ads during the election, but that the organization declined the offer.

“The goal of this disclosure is to provide the facts: that RT has never been involved in any illegal activity online, and that it never pursued an agenda of influencing the US election through any platforms, including Twitter,” wrote Kirill Karnovich-Valua, RT’s deputy editor in chief, in a post.

While Russia has denied using social media to meddle in the election, Twitter pointed to a report by the U.S. intelligence community that outlined how the two media outlets and others helped Donald Trump get elected as president.

Twitter said it plans to donate the estimated $1.9 million it earned from Russia Today since 2011 to support research about how Twitter is used for civic engagement and in elections.

This week, the company also said it is launching a “transparency center” for the ads it runs on its website, which will provide the public with more information about the audience advertisers are trying to target and how much they’re spending.

Meanwhile, U.S. lawmakers are still pushing to pass legislation that would require tech firms to disclose more about election ads.

Photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin is shown on a camera viewfinder at the headquarters of the Russia Today television network, in Moscow, Russia, June 11, 2013. (Yuri Kochetkov/Pool photo via AP)

 

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