'Freedom of Speech in Action': Social Media Users Slam Twitter's Sputnik Ad Ban

© AFP 2023 / Leon NealTwitter
Twitter - Sputnik International
Twitter is in trouble with its users after announcing that it banned advertising from all accounts belonging to Sputnik and RT. People flooded to the social networking service's official account to lambast it for forgetting the definition of freedom of speech.

In an announcement published on its blog on Thursday, the company declared that it "has made the policy decision to off-board advertising" from the Russian media outlets, "effective immediately." Twitter cited "retrospective work" surrounding "the 2016 US election, and the US intelligence community's conclusion that both RT and Sputnik attempted to interfere with the election on behalf of the Russian government."

​Sputnik editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan called Twitter's decision regrettable.

Twitter - Sputnik International
Sputnik Editor-in-Chief Says Twitter's Decision to Ban Ads 'Regrettable'
RT also fired back, stressing that the network "has never been involved in any illegal activity online," and that "it never pursued an agenda of influencing the US election through any platforms, including Twitter." The company pointed out that it has never violated any of Twitter's advertising rules, never dealt with bots, and never deliberately spread misinformation. In fact, the broadcaster stressed, it was Twitter that pitched a "large-sum advertising proposal" to the news network, which RT declined.

But it has been ordinary social media users who have left the harshest commentary for the company, accusing the social media giant of breaking elementary freedom of speech rules, and of censoring any media that the company happens to disagree with.

​Others asked why Russian English-language media was being selectively targeted for the ban.

Some users claimed that the company has effectively bowed to US intelligence, with others still saying the ban was a "pathetic display" of "neo-McCarthyist censorship," or even evidence of the continued pressure by the Democratic Party against companies over their unexpected loss to Trump in last year's elections.

Others made light of the situation, turning to memes and sarcasm to voice their concerns over the absurdity of the situation, and joking about the awkward language used by the company in its announcement.

Finally, others asked Twitter one simple question: to cite examples of Sputnik and RT's alleged misdeeds.

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