YouTube blocked Russian news channels TR and Sputnik across Europe in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Alphabet-owned company has confirmed the news on Twittersaying he would “take time for our systems to fully fall into place” and that he would continue to “monitor the situation around the clock to act quickly”.
This is the latest example of internet platforms blocking Russian media in response to the war. Yesterday Meta blocked TR and Sputnik on Instagram and Facebook after receiving requests to do so from several EU governments. TikTok also banned the two channels. YouTube had previously blocked these outlets from generating revenue on its platform through advertising and restricted access to these channels in Ukraine itself.
Russia’s invasion of its neighbor has sparked an information war across various online channels, as both sides broadcast reports and citizens and soldiers share frontline images and videos. Many European countries have called on platforms to do more to stop the spread of Russian disinformation. In an open letter, the leaders of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia said that Google, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter had become props of Russian aggression by allowing the country to have space on their sites and apps.
Due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, we are blocking YouTube channels connected to RT and Sputnik across Europe, effective immediately. It will take time for our systems to be fully operational. Our teams continue to monitor the situation around the clock to act quickly.
—Google Europe (@googleeurope) March 1, 2022
“Although online platforms have made tremendous efforts to respond to the Russian government’s unprecedented assault on the truth, they have not done enough,” the letter said, reported by Reuters. “Russian disinformation has been tolerated on online platforms for years; they are now complicit in the criminal war of aggression that the Russian government is waging against Ukraine and the free world.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also said the bloc would ban “the Kremlin’s media machine”. Said von der Leyen: “The state-owned company Russia today and Sputnik, and their affiliates, will no longer be able to spread their lies to justify Putin’s war. We are developing tools to ban their toxic and harmful misinformation in Europe.
In response, Russia has also blocked or limited access to a number of US technology platforms, including Twitter and Facebook. Last Friday, Russia’s technology and communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, accused Facebook of violating “the rights and freedoms of Russian citizens”.