Russia’s RT Publishes Twitter’s $1.5 Million Pitch for 2016 Election Coverage Boost
When Twitter banned ads from Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik on Thursday, citing the outlets’ reported attempts to interfere with last year’s U.S. election “on behalf of the Russian government,” RT quickly responded with a denial.
Now, the Kremlin-backed outlet has hit back with even more. It’s published the “full” sales pitch it received from Twitter ahead of the election last year. RT said it turned down the “multi-million dollar advertising proposal.” On Twitter, advertising largely consists of the platform promoting a user’s tweets in exchange for money.
After Twitter revealed in September that RT had used Twitter’s ad platform to amplify its messages, the outlet on Thursday published excerpts of the pitch. On Friday, it implied that the publication of those snippets had prompted Twitter to “abruptly” ban its ads altogether.
According to Twitter’s September disclosure, RT spent $274,100 on 1,823 promoted tweets that targeted the U.S. last year, though this tally included all ads, not just those dealing with election-related messages.
The pitch RT published on Friday shows Twitter proposing a deal that specifically included a $1.5 million budget for boosting RT’s exposure on the platform during the U.S. election campaign. It is not clear what other correspondence took place between RT and Twitter over the issue.
“Having since been banned, and in order to set the record straight, we are publishing Twitter’s presentation and details of the offer in full,” RT said in its latest article.
“We do not have any comment on our private conversations with any advertiser, even a former advertiser,” a Twitter spokesperson told Fortune.
Twitter said on Thursday that it had decided to ban ads from RT and Sputnik, a Kremlin-backed news agency, based on its own internal investigation and on the U.S. intelligence community’s assertion that the outlets tried to interfere in the election.
The U.S. firm also said it would take the estimated $1.9 million it had earned from RT advertising since 2011 and use it to “support external research into the use of Twitter in civic engagement and elections, including use of malicious automation and misinformation, with an initial focus on elections and automation.”