Long debated Russian involvement in 2016 US presidential elections is now being taken seriously by tech giants, Twitter has taken a bold step after it discovered the linkage of 200 accounts with Russian ads on Facebook last month.
Earlier this month Google revealed Russian sponsored ads appearing on Facebook, Gmail, and YouTube in order to spread disinformation and hijack the public belief.
Twitter said on Thursday the company would not allow any further advertisements on its platform that are linked to Russian government-sponsored News sites. Twitter has declared that Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik can use their account to tweet on the platform by they are not allowed to run ads on Twitter, RT had paid $1.9 million in ads since 2011 which includes $274,100 during 2016 elections—said Twitter.
The decision comes after tech companies have been under immense pressure from the government officials, activists and public for allowing Russian propaganda to infiltrate through social media into the US society, Tech companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter were used as an effective tool to spread disinformation and significantly impacted the elections.
Google and Facebook are also quite actively investigating the Russian involvement and money spent during that time, Google has already revealed some shocking figures and pledges to investigate it further so the important measures can be taken in future.
Twitter cited January 2017 report in a blog post which announces the ban on Russian ads, the report was published by US director of National Intelligence that pointed out RT and Sputnik as part of Russian state-sponsored efforts to influence the presidential elections. Twitter said they are taking this step to ensure the user experience is protected on social media. The social media platform will donate the money RT paid for its advertisements to external research studying Twitter’s role in civic engagement and elections.
The decision comes before the Twitter’s meeting to Congress in November, Twitter, Facebook, and Google are all expected to meet the intelligence committees next week and face tough questioning regarding the role of social media and Russian involvement.
After Twitter announced the ban on Russian advertising, the editor RT tweeted to respond:
— Маргарита Симоньян (@M_Simonyan) October 26, 2017
RT also published a blog post on Thursday in response, RT said Twitter approached RT to increase its spending on advertisements in April, Twitter also offered the news agency with privileges like analytics and customized emojis for hashtags. However, Twitter didn’t comment on RT claims.
Apparently, social networks like Twitter and Facebook seems to be under pressure by the government bodies, the companies rely on their revenues through advertising which is being questioned now.