by Chris Black
According to Twitter’s CEO official announcement on Thursday via a blog post, the US social media giant took the decision to ban the Kremlin-backed news outlets Sputnik and RT from advertising on their platform.
Twitter’s move on Thursday makes for one of the most aggressive decisions ever made by a US social media company against news outlets which are claimed by various intelligence officials to be linked with Kremlin’s efforts to meddle with the 2016 presidential election.
It’s interesting to notice that RT, also known formally as Russia Today, is currently being squeezed by US officials to register as a foreign agent as per a WW2 era law, which at the time was aimed at mitigating Nazi propaganda. Following the advertising ban, both RT and Sputnik News will be able to keep and to use their official Twitter accounts, as their following-base will not be affected.
It’s also worth mentioning that Twitter representatives are set to testify about the claimed Russian election meddling in the 2016 election cycle next week on Capitol Hill, together with their fellow colleagues from Facebook and Google. RT fought back against Twitter’s decision by asking a weird question:
Hope @jack won’t forget to tell @congressdotgov how @Twitter pitched @RT_com to spend big $$s on US elex ad campaign.
It’s going to be interesting to see Vladimir Putin’s response to this “online-aggression” and also whether Google (including YouTube which is Google owned) and Facebook will take similar steps, thus following Twitter’s lead in denying Russian news outlets from advertising on their platforms. I bet these guys never heard of the Streisand Effect, i.e. the harder you try to censor, remove or hide information, especially in the Internet era, you’ll discover that your attempt will have the unintended consequence of getting the respective information publicized more widely.
If Twitter seems to believe that buying a few adds on their platform constitutes election-meddling on RT’s part ( by the way, the United States is well known for using CIA front groups to organize mass protests and coups in foreign countries), using the same logic, Twitter should ban AIPAC, which is one of Washington’s DC’s largest lobbying groups (lobbying for a foreign power, mind you), that has far greater influence on US politics than any other entity (just look at the number of Israeli dual citizens which make for the top donors for both REPs and DEMs) from advertising on their platform.
If you ask me, Twitter, YouTube et al are already censoring and banning their way into irrelevance.
Here’s from the Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey’s blog post, as he explains the reason for which his company chose to declare cyber-war on Russia’s biggest news outlets:
“Twitter has made the policy decision to off-board advertising from all accounts owned by Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik, effective immediately. 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. 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.
Early this year, the U.S. intelligence community named RT and Sputnik as implementing state-sponsored Russian efforts to interfere with and disrupt the 2016 Presidential election, which is not something we want on Twitter. This decision is restricted to these two entities based our internal investigation of their behavior as well as their inclusion in the January 2017 DNI report. This decision does not apply to any other advertisers. RT and Sputnik may remain organic users on our platform, in accordance with the Twitter Rules.
Twitter has also decided to take the $1.9 million we are projected to have earned from RT global advertising since they became an advertiser in 2011, which includes the $274,100 in 2016 U.S.-based advertising that we highlighted in our September 28 blog post, and donate those funds to support external research into the use of Twitter in civic engagement and elections, including use of malicious automation and misinformation, with an initial focus on elections and automation. We will have more details to share on this disbursement soon.”
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