Twitter Offered Kremlin-Linked Propagandists 15% Of Election Ad Revenue, Says Report

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Eric Lieberman Managing Editor
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Twitter pushed television network Russia Today (RT) to spend a lot of money in the run-up to the U.S. 2016 election, according to BuzzFeed News.

The new report comes after Twitter recently announced they are relinquishing its business relationship with the news agency because, through an internal investigation and a Director of National Intelligence report, Twitter found that RT “attempted to interfere with the election on behalf of the Russian government.”

Twitter offered RT, which is funded by the Russian government, a maximum 15 percent share of voice (SOV) on U.S. election advertising for $3 million, according to a June 2016 email between a Twitter executive and RT staffers. RT shared the email with BuzzFeed News, who allege that Twitter has not denied the electronic communications’ authenticity.

The 15 percent SOV would have been a huge increase from its original 2 percent rate, and the $3 million would reportedly have multiplied the SOV by seven times, but RT says it turned down the proposition. To put these figures in perspective, media giants like CNN and Fox, respectively, were given a 56 and 32 percent SOV.

Congressional investigators have probed the tech company (along with Google and Facebook) after it was discovered Russia used, and perhaps manipulated, the platforms in an attempt to influence the 2016 U.S. election. Multiple lawmakers have introduced legislation that threatens to at least partially regulate tech companies’ control of advertisement operations.

Twitter will donate the estimated $1.9 million in ad revenue the company received from the two foreign news agencies to research in Russian-sponsored efforts to interfere with the American electoral process.

Russia felt the business decision was unjust.

“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 a Facebook post, which was loosely translated by the platform, by Maria Zakharova, the director of the information and press department of the ministry of foreign affairs in Russia. “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 was also posted on Twitter. (RELATED: Twitter Ends Relationship With RT For Election Influence, But What About Other Media Outlets?)

Twitter seems to now either be caving to pressure from some of the public and public officials, or indirectly admitting that it made a mistake.

Twitter did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment by time of publication.

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