Alvin Bayle and Henry Kincaid-
Twitter has banned RT (formerly known as Russia Today) and Sputnik in an effort to mitigate any possible Russian political influence in the future. Ever since the 2016 US election, there has been speculation regarding Russia’s involvement in the presidential referendum, particularly in regards to how the state has allegedly used social media to influence voting intentions. In a statement published on the social media giant’s blog, the company said that “This decision was based on the retrospective work we’ve been doing around the 2016 U.S. election and the U.S. Intelligence community’s conclusion that both RT and Sputnik attempted to interfere with the election on behalf of the Russian Government.”
In order to eliminate media manipulation, Twitter promises to become more transparent when it comes to advertising, mainly through the use of filtering the advertisements based on the consumer. This includes utilizing an ‘Advertising Transparency Center’, labeling the adverts to illustrate who they are being targeted for, penalizing firms for pushing partisan adverts, and increasing information on how long an ad campaign has been running for.
Twitter appears to want to regulate more of the advertisements in order to determine which ones should be allowed to be seen by the public. In addition, they are also allowing feedbacks on ads, giving people the opportunity to report what is appropriate or inappropriate based on their personal preferences.
Twitter hopes these steps can help improve elections by providing more transparency in regards to advertising the consumer is being served.
However, this statement and push from Twitter towards maintaining transparency has angered Russia. A response from Russia’s Foreign Ministry has accused Twitter of blocking Russian media in the U.S., in what they have called “another aggressive step”.
RT, one of the websites affected by this block, and a network solely funded by the Russian state, had this to say about Twitter’s recent actions:
“Here are the facts: RT never violated any rules while advertising on Twitter. RT has never dealt with, and will never deal with, bots or any other compromised tools on any social media platform. RT has never spread any sort of deliberate misinformation. If we had, RT would have been banned by any social media platform in question, as all of them have strict rules regarding policy violations. RT always has been, is, and will be a reliable partner and publisher on global social media networks which provide opportunities for all media to reach new and diverse audiences.”
Contrary to information collated by the U.S. Intelligence community, Russia has continued to deny any claims that they interfered in the 2016 election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Featured Image Credits: Paul Morris/Getty/Bloomberg