Big tech begins to restrict Russian state media platforms

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

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

“We have received requests from a number of governments and the EU to take further action regarding Russian state-controlled media,” wrote Nick Clegg, president of global affairs at Meta, in a tweet. “Given the exceptional nature of the current situation, we will restrict access to RT and Sputnik across the EU for the time being. We will continue to work closely with governments on this issue.

YouTube announced on Tuesday morning that it would also block videos on the site, having previously restricted ads on content. The ban is effective immediately, but the company wrote that “it will take time for our systems to fully roll out.”

Snap Inc., owner of Snapchat, said it has ceased all advertising in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. “We are stopping advertising sales to all Russian and Belarusian entities and complying with all sanctions against Russian businesses and individuals,” the company said. “We do not accept income from Russian public entities.”

Roku Inc., the video streaming platform, said on Tuesday it was removing RT from its channel store everywhere, including US satellite service DirecTV announced a similar move earlier in the day.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began on Thursday, has prompted a growing number of governments to ask big tech companies to cut or restrict their services in Russia. Poland and the Baltic states on Sunday called on Big Tech companies to “take a stand” against Russia.

Companies will soon be forced to remove content, after EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said the EU ban on state-backed media will include streaming or content-sharing platforms RT and Sputnik .

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

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

“We are removing RT news apps from our Windows app store and further downgrading search results for these sites on Bing so that it only returns RT and Sputnik links when a user clearly intends to. navigate to these pages,” the company said in a statement. The company will also ban ads from RT and Sputnik.

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