Russian news outlets RT(formerly known as Russia Today) and Sputnik will no longer be allowed to purchase advertising on Twitter, the social media platform announced in a statement Thursday (26 October).
Twitter said the decision, which impacts "all accounts" owned by the two outlets, is effective immediately. It cited the alleged Russian interference and misinformation campaign during the 2016 presidential election as the primary reason behind the unprecedented move.
A statement read: "We did not come to this decision lightly, and are taking this step now as part of our ongoing commitment to help protect the integrity of the user experience on Twitter.
"The US 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.
"This decision is restricted to these two entities based our internal investigation of their behaviour as well as their inclusion in the January 2017 DNI report.
"This decision does not apply to any other advertisers. RT and Sputnik may remain organic users on our platform, in accordance with the Twitter rules."
The social platform said that it plans to donate the projected $1.9m it would have earned from the advertising to support external research into how it was successfully exploited during the US election. "We will have more details to share on this disbursement soon," it said.
Alongside Google and Facebook, Twitter has become the focus of intense criticism for failing to combat Russian trolls and their major propaganda campaigns.
The three technology firms are set to testify on 1 November in front of a US House Intelligence community in order to give evidence about suspected Russian activity on their websites.
In a long-winded statement, RT denied it had been involved in illegal activity online and said it "never pursued an agenda of influencing the U.S. election through any platforms, including Twitter."
RT's editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan, said the decision was "highly regrettable."
"I never thought that Twitter is under the control of the US security services – it seemed like a conspiracy theory. But now Twitter appears to have admitted it," Simonyan told RIA Novosti, via RT.
"This is highly regrettable. It is particularly regrettable that now US media operating in Russia will feel the tender response of the Russian authorities."
Kirill Karnovich-Valua RT's deputy editor-in-chief, branded the advertising ban "groundless" and "greatly misleading". The network is facing similar restrictions on YouTube.