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Twitter has banned two Russia-backed media organizations from advertising on its site

But they can still keep tweeting.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey speaks into a microphone at an onstage podium.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey
Larry French/Getty Images for Thurgood Marshall College Fund

Twitter will no longer allow two Russian-backed media organizations — RT and Sputnik — to advertise on its site, the social media company announced Thursday.

The ban comes months after the U.S. government — in a report studying Russia’s suspected meddling in the 2016 presidential election — charged that the two publications are arms of the Kremlin’s powerful disinformation efforts.

In doing so, though, Twitter said it would still allow RT, Sputnik and their related accounts to tweet their stories and other content — meaning they “may remain organic users on our platform” provided they adhere to the company’s rules.

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“Early this year, the U.S. intelligence community named RT and Sputnik as implementing state-sponsored Russian efforts to interfere with and disrupt the 2016 Presidential election, which is not something we want on Twitter,” the company continued in a blog post.

Twitter also said it would take the roughly $1.9 million it is projected to have earned from RT advertising since they started promoting tweets in 2011 and “donate those funds to support external research into the use of Twitter” and disinformation.

RT, meanwhile, fired back at Twitter on Thursday. In its own post, it said it “has never been involved in any illegal activity online, and that it never pursued an agenda of influencing the U.S. election through any platforms, including Twitter.”

And RT charged that it was Twitter, in fact, that previously had “pitched to RT a large-sum advertising proposal,” which the Russian news network said it declined. It did not provide financial details of the arrangement, but did tweet out a slide purporting to be from Twitter’s presentation. Twitter declined to comment about the briefing.

In meetings with congressional investigators studying Russia’s disinformation campaign, Twitter executives previously shared more than 1,800 promoted tweets from Russia Today, known as RT, and its three main accounts on the site. Some of the ads, valued in total at about $274,000, sought to promote RT’s own stories, including those that sharply attacked Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Weeks later, though, the company and other platforms where RT and Sputnik count sizable audiences — Facebook and Google-owned YouTube — still had not actually announced any restrictions on their ability to advertise, Recode first reported.

On Thursday, spokespeople for Facebook and Google — two other platforms where RT and Sputnik are prevalent — did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment on whether they had changed their policies.

Twitter’s decision to institute a new ban comes days before the company is set to testify alongside Facebook and Google at back-to-back hearings before the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. Earlier this week, Twitter also announced a series of changes to its political ad policies.


This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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