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Twitter will ban two Russian government-linked media outlets from advertising

Twitter will ban two Russian government-linked media outlets from advertising

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A picture of the Twitter logo.
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Facing criticism over Russian propaganda on its platform, Twitter today announced that it will ban two media outlets with ties to the Russian government from its ad system.

“We did not come to this decision lightly.”

The two outlets, RT and Sputnik, are widely believed to be aligned with Kremlin interests. Both came under increased scrutiny in a report, released by US intelligence agencies earlier this year, that detailed some Russian efforts to influence the US election.

“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 blog post announcing the decision, adding that it arrived at that conclusion based on both the intelligence report and an “internal investigation of their behavior.”

The decision applies only to those two advertisers, the company said. Both outlets will still be allowed to reach users through their accounts by unpaid means, although the decision will likely limit that reach considerably.

Twitter says it has received $1.9 million in advertising dollars from RT since 2011. As part of its announcement, the company said it would give that money to groups working on external research around Twitter and politics.

Twitter’s decision comes at a time when tech companies are being increasingly scrutinized for their roles in facilitating Russian propaganda during the US election. Along with Twitter, both Facebook and Google have uncovered covert propaganda efforts, as Congress investigates the scope of the problems.