Twitter Bars Ads From 2 Russian Media Orgs

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Twitter, along with Facebook and Google, testified earlier this month before Congress as part of the US investigations of Moscow for purported electoral interference.

Social media giant Twitter has banned advertisements from accounts linked to media outlets Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik.

"We consider this a yet another aggressive step aiming to block the activity of Russian channel RT", Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement.

The decision is effective immediately, Twitter said.

Twitter said on Thursday that it had made a decision to ban ads from RT and Sputnik, a Kremlin-backed news agency, based on its own internal investigation and on the US intelligence community's assertion that the outlets tried to interfere in the election.

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RT and Sputnik condemned the move, and Moscow threatened retaliatory measures.

"I never thought that Twitter is under the control of the USA security services - it seemed like a conspiracy theory". Specifically, Twitter admitted that it sold ads for accounts connected to RT, which it acknowledged has strong links to the Russian government. "This is highly regrettable".

In its report, the intelligence community concluded "with high confidence" that Russian President Vladimir Putin directed an influence campaign meant to "undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary [Hillary] Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency". In the US, RT employees have to register as "foreign agents", and in the United Kingdom, the channel has been reprimanded for misleading its viewers. In its latest quarterly report, Twitter said that since 2014 it has double-counted users running some third-party apps.

Russia Today and Sputnik will still be able to "remain organic users" on Twitter, as long as they comply with the site's rules.

Twitter also said they would use any projected earnings from RT Global advertising - an estimated €1.62 million ($1.9 million) - to fund research into how automation, civic engagement and misinformation on Twitter are used in elections.