RT editor says Twitter pitched outlet on buying election ads

RT editor says Twitter pitched outlet on buying election ads
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The top editor of Russian government-owned cable channel RT said on social media Thursday that Twitter had pitched the Kremlin-funded outlet on buying election ads during the 2016 race.

The remarks from RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan come amid heightened scrutiny of Russian government influence in the presidential race, including the roles played by social media ads and Kremlin media outlets.

Simonyan directed her tweet at Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

“Hope @jack won’t forget to tell @congressdotgov how @Twitter pitched @RT_com to spend big $$s on US elex ad campaign,” Simonyan wrote in a tweet.

The tweet includes a screenshot of a document titled “U.S. Elections Proposal for @RT_com.”

“For discussion purposes only,” reads a note at the bottom of the document.

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

Shortly after the tweet was posted, Twitter announced in a blog post that it would no longer sell ads to RT and Sputnik, another Russian state news organization, though the company did not respond to Simonyan's claim.

Simonyan also tweeted that RT "is an exemplary [Twitter] partner," along with what she said were multiple slides from Twitter's "pitch deck" to RT for the 2016 election. 

Twitter is sending its general counsel to testify before the House and Senate intelligence committees next week as part of the investigation into Russia’s alleged campaign to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

Twitter has briefed Congress about ads purchased by RT, formerly known as Russia Today, and other accounts suspected of being affiliated with Moscow.

In September 28 blog post Twitter revealed the amount of money that RT had spent on ads on the platform. But Twitter did not say that it had pitched the outlet on buying election ads.

“Based on our findings thus far, RT spent $274,100 in U.S. ads in 2016,” the blog post reads. “In that year, the @RT_com, @RT_America, and @ActualidadRT accounts promoted 1,823 Tweets that definitely or potentially targeted the U.S. market. These campaigns were directed at followers of mainstream media and primarily promoted RT Tweets regarding news stories.”