A company owned by Twitter, without notice, has temporarily blocked Sputnik's account on one of the MoPub mobile apps' monetization platforms through which the social network pays content producers for advertising, according to the news agency's press service.
According to Sputnik's press service, "on October 31, the technical staff could not enter its personal account, when someone tried entering, the message 'Your account has been suspended due to a violation of MoPub's Terms of Service or Supply Side Policies' has appeared during log in attempts."
While Sputnik employees have not undertaken any actions with the account or logged in in several months, the "technical staff sent a letter to MoPub and has not received an answer so far."
According to the official MoPub website, the company was bought by Twitter in 2013. Since February 2017, Sputnik has used MoPub in its mobile app, receiving several payments in the first half of the year, and then the agency ceased posting ads from MoPub. On October 31, the last payment of about $100 was received from MoPub, the entire amount of revenue from February 2017 was just over $3.5 thousand. As the Sputnik press service stated, "in fact MoPub worked actively for only two months: May and June, then we stopped using it and only received receipts from users of older versions."
The secretary of the Russian Union of Journalists and a member of the International Federation of Journalists Executive Committee, Timur Shafir, has commented on the blocking of Sputnik's account, telling Sputnik that is yet another step in a series of US economic punitive measures aimed against Russian media.
Pressure on Sputnik and RT in Wake of Tech Giants' Hearing in US Senate
The move came just two weeks after Twitter's announcement of the decision to off-board advertising from all RT and Sputnik accounts, expaining the move by the US investigation into Moscow's alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.
While the Sputnik news agency has stated in its press release that it had never paid for promotion on Twitter, RT has responded with numbers — the broadcaster's editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan, has revealed the amount of money spent on Twitter ads during the US election race; the number totals $275,000, in comparison to the presidential nominees who spent about $1 billion each.
RT has revealed how Twitter itself has been pushing the broadcaster to spend big on its ads during the US election campaign, a proposal eventually turned down by the media outlet. While Moscow has slammed Twitter's decision as "another aggressive step," the Russian Upper House has recommended the country's media outlets to refrain from placing ads on Twitter.
Twitter's decision came days ahead of a hearing in the US Senate with the US tech giants that has also included Google and Facebook, on the alleged Russian interference in the US presidential election, a claim dubbed "groundless and absurd" by the Kremlin. During the testimony, the CEOs of Google and Twitter stated that they found no violations by RT's ads on their platforms.
The tech giants testimony came as latest in a series of actions in the US exerting pressure on RT and Sputnik. In particular, RT was requested to register under the US Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) in September in an unprecedented move not applied to any other media operation in the country, prompting Moscow to warn Washington of response measures toward US outlets in Russia.