The Russian government railed against Twitter on Thursday for deciding to cut ties with domestic firms Sputnik and RT.
Maria Zakharova, the director of the information and press department of the ministry of foreign affairs in Russia, implied that the U.S. government was involved in Twitter’s choice.
“We view this as another aggressive step aimed at blocking the activities of the Russian TV channel ‘Russia Today’ and it was the result of the pressure of part of the American intelligence,” reads Zakharova’s Facebook post, which was loosely translated by the platform. “The response will naturally follow. It is clear that the obstruction of the Russian media, including through the arsenal of intelligence services, shows a flagrant violation by the United States of America of both international and domestic legislation guaranteeing freedom of expression,” the statement continues, which somewhat ironically was also posted on Twitter.
The post asked users to join a seemingly ambiguous campaign due to this “unprecedented attack by American media outlets.”
The social media company announced Thursday that it is relinquishing its business relationship with the two Russian companies because of an “internal investigation of their behavior as well as their inclusion in the January 2017 DNI [Director of National Intelligence] report.”
It also said it’s donating $1.9 million in advertisement revenue from Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik for research in Russian-sponsored efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.
Twitter calculated that it received approximately $1.9 million from global advertising since 2011, including $274,100 in marketing expenditures in 2016. Twitter said in September that RT and other affiliated accounts “promoted — meaning sponsored, or paid for special placement on the platform — 1,823 tweets that “definitely or potentially targeted the U.S. market.”
Like its boss the Russian government, RT also hit back against Twitter, saying the tech company actually urged it to spend millions on ad revenue before the 2016 presidential election, according to the Associated Press.
The tech company did not clarify how it was funding research, like if the nearly $2 million sum will go towards a research organization, and which one. It just explained that it would “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.”
Twitter declined to elaborate on specifics after The Daily Caller News Foundation asked why it made the announcement on the same day it released its third quarter results, which showed that it miscalculated user growth for years.
While Facebook has been getting the majority of the attention surrounding accusations that Russia actively tried to intervene in America’s electoral process, Twitter and fellow tech company Google have also been working with congressional investigators on a larger probe. The latest move to ban Sputnik and RT, and donate the funds it has earned from them, shows a further commitment for Twitter, but its not perfectly clear if it was done with acquiescence or genuine eagerness.
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