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10 Aug, 2018 18:09

Controversial French report on ‘Russophiles’ funded by Twitter with profits from RT ads

Controversial French report on ‘Russophiles’ funded by Twitter with profits from RT ads

A French report that labeled thousands as ‘Russophiles’ pushing anti-Macron narratives on Twitter, was partially funded by the tech giant itself, with the money it received from RT and Sputnik, the report’s author states.

The Brussels-based NGO called EU DisinfoLab made waves in France after it produced a report on how social media was affected by the scandal, involving President Emmanuel Macron’s now-notorious security aide Alexandre Benalla. The report listed thousands of Twitter accounts, which were labeled as “Russophiles” for sharing information about the scandal. Those included presidential candidates Jean-Luc Melenchon and Marine Le Pen, as well as many others, who were angered by the apparent attempt to smear them.

Ironically, the controversial report was partially funded by Russian money, the NGO states on its website. It says some of its funding was received from Twitter, which in October last year banned RT and Radio Sputnik from using its platform for advertising. The decision was justified by accusations against the two outlets by the US office of the Director of National Security, which equated our reporting to meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

As Twitter tried to distance itself from the “Russian connection”, it pledged to give away the proceeds from Russian ads.  DisinfoLab said Twitter estimated it had received $1.9 million from RT and Sputnik since 2011 and that it will donate an equal sum 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”.

According to the EU DisinfoLab, in January it received $125,000 of the Twitter’s “mea culpa” money. Which it apparently used to stir anti-Russian hysteria in France.

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