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Russia’s RT dismisses US election probe Twitter ads revelation

September 29, 2017

Russian media group RT — accused by Washington of interfering in the 2016 presidential election — said Friday its ads appearing on Twitter were legitimate, dismissing any suggestion of impropriety.

In a statement, RT mocked the notion that its nearly 2,000 ads on the social network in 2016 were any different from what other media groups were doing.

“Twitter has just unveiled horrendous information in Congress – that we’ve been spending money on our advertising campaigns, just like every media organization in the world,” the group, formerly known as Russia Today, said in a statement.

“This is forcing us to go a step further and come clean that we also spent money on advertising at airports, in taxis, on billboards, on the internet, on TV and radio. Even CNN ran our commercials. Somehow it did not cross our mind that in a developed democracy, regular media advertising can be considered suspicious or detrimental activity.”

Twitter said Thursday its vice president for public policy, Colin Crowell, told staff from two congressional panels investigating alleged Russian interference that RT spent $274,100 in US ads in 2016.

RT’s Twitter accounts “promoted 1,823 Tweets that definitely or potentially targeted the US market,” Twitter said in a blog post.

Twitter’s disclosure raised concerns that Russia-backed entities sought to manipulate social media as part of an effort to disrupt or sway the election.

In January, a US intelligence report on Russian election interference — an accusation Moscow has repeatedly denied — labelled RT “the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet.”

RT’s coverage of Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton was “consistently negative,” the report added.

RT broadcasts in English, Spanish and Arabic, with the aim of providing foreign viewers “alternative perspectives” and “a Russian viewpoint on major global events,” according to its website.


Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.