Published time: 26 Oct, 2017 22:04Edited time: 26 Oct, 2017 22:11
As of this Thursday, RT is a news organization too villainous for Twitter to even accept money from. But just a short while ago, its execs had no idea they were abetting a snake pit of Kremlin propaganda. In fact, they even came to visit.
Above is a picture of Peter Greenberger, current Global Director of News, sitting in our studio anchor’s desk in Moscow in October 2015, when he was Director of Emerging Markets at Twitter. We enjoyed Peter’s visit, and so did he – posting a picture of himself at RT on Twitter and using it as his Facebook profile picture, which he might now choose to replace.
Now, this is not a gotcha, or one of those Washington Post or New York Times Russia scoops that spin out a single detail to conclude that Vladimir Putin managed to propel Donald Trump into the White House by hearting anti-Clinton posts from Julian Assange’s account.
But in the statement Twitter released on the RT ban, it talks about preserving “integrity.”
Did this ‘integrity’ not matter two years ago, or even last year, when Twitter sent out a document – its logo sitting neatly beside RT’s, suggesting that the companies join forces to cover the US election (for a pretty profit for the blue bird)?
Or were the Twitter execs confused about the nature of RT’s content, even as they talked about its “edge”? Is Greenberger’s Yale education sufficient to distinguish a propaganda bullhorn? Is this why they are donating RT revenues going back six years? Were they fooled all this time?
Well, Twitter might retort that they have conducted an “investigation” or something they call “retrospective work around the 2016 election.”
We don’t know what they have found. They won’t tell us or anyone else. But hand on heart, can any Twitter executive say that there is anything different about RT from 2015 or 2016 and now. Is it the funding? The editorial line? The hashtag #QuestionMore? Doesn’t seem to be any of those.
One thing has changed, however, though we can’t be sure that it is more important than Twitter’s investigation.
Democrat Senator Mark Warner recently had a “deeply disappointing” conversation about Russia with Twitter, and followed it up by tabling the Honest Ads Act, new legislation that would tighten rules on political advertisements for the microblogging site. Twitter also faces a hearing on November 1, where it will be grilled over its Russia connections.
Actually, another thing has changed also. Twitter’s stock shot up by double-digit figures following its RT and Sputnik announcement. For a measly $1.9 million donation, its reputational gains have earned it billions in one afternoon.
But then again it wasn’t about profits or preservation, it was about ‘integrity.’ And isn’t it lovely when it goes together perfectly with self-interest?