Russian government condemns Twitter’s ad ban for Russia Today and Sputnik

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The Russian government officially slammed Twitter’s decision to ban Sputnik and Russia Today from its advertising products. The Director of the Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Maria Zakharova has posted a statement on Twitter and Facebook.

Zakharova goes one step further and attacks the U.S. government directly. According to her, this has become a freedom of speech issue and the Russian government will take measures. She didn’t say what she had in mind.

“We see this as another aggressive step aimed at blocking the activities of Russian TV channel Russia Today and it is the result of pressure from part of the American establishment and special services,” she wrote.

Twitter didn’t ban Russia Today and Sputnik from Twitter. They’re still tweeting and sharing articles on their official accounts. But the company found out that they both “attempted to interfere with the [2016 U.S. ] election on behalf of the Russian government.”

In particular, Twitter realized that they had spent $1.9 million on ads to increase their reach. The company said that those ads don’t comply with the platform’s rules. Twitter will donate $1.9 million to fund research into the use of its service in civic engagement and elections.

Russia Today also published a presentation of different advertising offers from Twitter. It looks like Twitter was encouraging Russia Today to buy more political ads with Twitter offering free ads if Russia Today committed to spending $1.15 million to $1.5 million on ads.

Earlier this year, a Director of National Intelligence found evidence of Russia’s efforts to influence the U.S. election. Facebook ads have been the main focus, but Twitter is also investigating 2016 advertising activity and trying to be more transparent when it comes to political ads.

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