Oct 26, 2017

Twitter bans ads from RT and Sputnik over election concerns

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Photo: Richard Drew / AP

Twitter said Thursday it would "off-board" ads linked to Russian state outlets Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik over concerns they tried to influence the 2016 election. The move comes less than a week before the company sends a lawyer to testify on Russian election meddling on Capitol Hill, where he'll join colleagues from Google and Facebook.

Why it matters: The implications for tech companies of possible Russian election meddling go far beyond those ads purchased by a notorious "troll farm" that have already been disclosed.

The details:

  • "This decision was based on the retrospective work we've been doing around the 2016 U.S. election and the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that both RT and Sputnik attempted to interfere with the election on behalf of the Russian government," the company said in a blog post.
  • Both outlets can continue to use the platform — just not advertise on it — "in accordance with the Twitter Rules."
  • The company will donate an estimated $1.9 million earned from RT ads since 2011 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."

What's next: Facebook and Google (which owns YouTube) are likely to face more questions about their relationships with RT.

Go deeper

Trump removes watchdog overseeing rollout of $2 trillion coronavirus bill

Glenn Fine, acting Pentagon watchdog

President Trump on Monday replaced the Pentagon's acting Inspector General Glenn Fine, who had been selected to chair the panel overseeing the rollout of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed last month, Politico first reported.

Why it matters: A group of independent federal watchdogs selected Fine to lead the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, but Fine's removal from his Pentagon job prevents from being able to serve in that position — since the law only allows sitting inspectors general to fill the role.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12 p.m. ET: 1,365,004— Total deaths: 76,507 — Total recoveries: 292,467Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12 p.m. ET: 369,069 — Total deaths: 11,018 — Total recoveries: 20,003Map.
  3. Trump administration latest: Peter Navarro warned White House colleagues in late January about the massive potential risks from the coronavirus.
  4. Federal government latest: The public wants the federal government, not states, in charge of coronavirus — Testing capacity is still lagging far enough behind demand.
  5. States update: New York death toll surged to its highest one-day total as state predicts a plateau in hospitalizations.
  6. 2020 update: Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks the governor's attempt to delay in-person primary voting until June.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Cuomo projects plateau in hospitalizations as coronavirus deaths surge

As the New York death toll surged to its highest one-day total on Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo projected that the state is reaching a plateau in coronavirus hospitalizations due to strict social distancing measures.

The big picture: Daily ICU admissions, intubations and the three-day hospitalization rate have all decreased, Cuomo said Tuesday. The daily death toll jumped by 731 to 5,489 — the "largest single-day increase" — but Cuomo cautioned that number of deaths is a "lagging indicator" due to the length that most critical patients are in the hospital for.