Twitter has banned Russia-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab from advertising on its platform, stating that the company “operates using a business model that inherently conflicts with acceptable Twitter Ads business practices.” In an open letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Kaspersky Lab’s Founder Eugene Kaspersky has termed the move as “potential political censorship”. Also Read - Twitter Bug Bounty Contest to offer $3500 cash prize for detecting algorithm bias
“At the end of January, Twitter unexpectedly informed us about an advertising ban on our official accounts where we announce new posts on our various blogs on cybersecurity (including, for example, Securelist and Kaspersky Daily) and inform users about new cyberthreats and what to do about them,” Eugene wrote on Friday. Also Read - COVID-19 third wave: Twitter shuts offices as coronavirus cases rise
“In a short letter from an unnamed Twitter employee, we were told that our company ‘operates using a business model that inherently conflicts with acceptable Twitter Ads business practices,'” he added. Kaspersky Lab spent around $93,000 to promote its content on Twitter in 2017 and its India advertising share on Twitter was around $13,580. Also Read - Twitter Voice Tweets rolling out for iOS: What are they, how to send
“No matter how this situation develops, we won’t be doing any more advertising on Twitter this year. “The whole of the planned Twitter advertising budget for 2018 will instead be donated to the @EFF. They do a lot to fight censorship online,” Eugene tweeted on Saturday.
According to a report in Cyberscoop, a Twitter spokesperson pointed towards the September 2017 decree from US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that ordered federal agencies to remove Kaspersky products from their networks. “Kaspersky Lab may remain an organic user on our platform, in accordance with the Twitter Rules,” a Twitter spokesperson told The Register.
“Twitter is playing into the hands of cybercriminals when it hinders the delivery of important information on protection from cyberthreats,” Eugene said. “The majority of our promoted content on Twitter has been about cybersafety and research and reports about the information security industry. We believe that this content brings value to a variety of Twitter users.”
“Twitter, if this is a matter of a decision being made in error, please openly admit this; people’d forgive you – everyone makes mistakes! I think that would be the only civilized way to quash any doubts about potential political censorship on Twitter,” Eugene said.
The Kaspersky Lab founder said that more than two months have passed and the only reply he received from Twitter was the copy of the same boilerplate text. “Accordingly, I’m forced to rely on another (less subtle but nevertheless oft and loudly declared) principle of Twitter’s – speaking truth to power – to share details of the matter with interested users and to publicly ask that you, dear Twitter executives, kindly be specific as to the reasoning behind this ban,” he said.