Twitter announced Thursday its decision to immediately end advertising from accounts owned by Russian state-sponsored news agencies RT and Sputnik. "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," Twitter wrote in its statement.
In September, The New York Times reported that Twitter might have been used even more extensively than Facebook during the Russian campaign. Facebook has admitted that it unknowingly sold $100,000 worth of ads to a Russian "troll farm" during the 2016 presidential election.
Twitter wrote Thursday that it has further decided "to take the $1.9 million we are projected to have earned from RT global advertising since they became an advertiser in 2011, which includes the $274,100 in 2016 U.S.-based advertising that we highlighted in our Sept. 28 blog post, and donate those funds to 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."
Sputnik in particular has made a concerted effort to take root in the U.S. The network recently took over a Washington, D.C., FM radio station for an all-talk program and the FBI opened an investigation into the organization seeking to determine if it is operating as a propaganda machine for the Kremlin.