Twitter blocks ads from two Russia-backed media agencies

The Twitter logo is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York City U.S

Twitter cited a report produced in January by US intelligence agencies that concluded the Russian government attempted to interfere in the 2016 USA presidential election.

The ad restriction applies only to RT, an English-language TV broadcaster that receives financial support from the Russian government, and Sputnik, a news agency and online news outlet.

On Thursday, Twitter said it may become profitable for the first time next quarter after slashing expenses and ramping up deals to sell its data to other companies, which could help to break its reliance on advertising for revenue.

RT has thrived on social media, particularly YouTube and Facebook.

The article also quoted Russian President Vladimir Putin as saying his government would react to us restrictions on Russian media "swiftly and symmetrically".

Twitter said RT and Sputnik may remain "organic users on our platform, in accordance with the Twitter rules".

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".

Like Facebook, Twitter says it is cooperating with congressional committees with respect to investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

RT also alleged that Twitter had encouraged it to buy advertising in order to expand its reach in the US.

The Russian effort to influence the election is said to have consisted of several hundred fake Twitter accounts and about $100,000 worth of Facebook ads promoting "divisive" causes like Black Lives Matter.

Last month Twitter told lawmakers it found some 200 accounts linked to the same Russian groups that bought $100,000 worth of ads on Facebook to sow political unrest and manipulate US voters during the presidential election.

Twitter's move comes as social media platforms face increased scrutiny for their failure to stop bots, foreign governments and anonymous ads from spreading misinformation and propaganda.

Sputnik, a news agency, said on its website that Twitter's move was regrettable, "especially now that Russian Federation had vowed retaliatory measures against the US media". Gidari is now privacy director at Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society.

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