Big Tech begins restricting Russian state media platforms

  • Internet
  • Wednesday, 02 Mar 2022

Tech companies are restricting their services in Russia and blocking propaganda from the country, ahead of a likely ban issued by the European Union. — REUTERS/File Photo

YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok are restricting state-owned Russian media channels ahead of a likely European Union ban, aiming to curtail propaganda during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The EU announced a ban Sunday, which countries are expected to sign off on today after a formal proposal. In the meantime, YouTube owner Alphabet, Facebook owner Meta Platforms Inc. and TikTok owner Bytedance Ltd. have already restricted access to accounts run by Sputnik and Russia Today in the EU.

"We have received requests from a number of governments and the EU to take further steps in relation to Russian state controlled media,” Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, wrote in a tweet. "Given the exceptional nature of the current situation, we will be restricting access to RT and Sputnik across the EU at this time. We will continue to work closely with governments on this issue.”

YouTube announced Tuesday morning that it would also block videos on the site, after previously restricting ads on the content. The ban is effective immediately but the company wrote that "It’ll take time for our systems to fully ramp up.”

Snap Inc., which owns Snapchat, said it has stopped all advertising running in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. "We are halting advertising sales to all Russian and Belarusian entities and are complying with all sanctions targeting Russian businesses and individuals,” the company said. "We do not accept revenue from Russian state-owned entities.”

Roku Inc., the streaming-video platform, said Tuesday that it was removing RT from its channel store everywhere, including the U.S. Satellite service DirecTV announced a similar move earlier in the day.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began Thursday, has prompted a growing number of governments to ask large technology companies to reduce or restrict their services in Russia. Poland and the Baltic states asked Big Tech companies on Sunday to "take a stand” against Russia.

Companies will soon be forced to take down the content, after Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal market commissioner, said the EU’s ban on the state-backed media will include broadcasting or platforms sharing RT and Sputnik content.

Poland and the Baltic states asked Big Tech companies on Sunday to "take a stand” against Russia by removing accounts from Russian and Belarusian governments and their leaders. As the government pressure mounted, Twitter Inc. added warning labels to links from Russian state media,

Microsoft also said it would take steps to reduce users’ exposure to Russian propaganda, including on

"We are removing RT news apps from our Windows app store and further de-ranking these sites’ search results on Bing so that it will only return RT and Sputnik links when a user clearly intends to navigate to those pages,” the company said in a statement. The company will also be banning ads from RT and Sputnik. – Bloomberg

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