Tech giants including Google, Facebook, Twitter and Netflix are colluding to assure westerners only receive one narrative surrounding coverage of the conflict in Ukraine in an effort to stop the spread of misinformation.
Following pressure from European Union officials, social media giants and big tech platforms are now restricting Russian news networks RT and Sputnik from using their platforms.
On Saturday, Meta and Google demonetized and banned advertising from RT and other Russian-backed channels, barring the companies from earning revenue from content that supported the invasion.
But the EU demanded the tech giants take additional steps to censor and ban disinformation agents.
On Sunday, the EU announced it would ban Kremlin-based media outlets and take “unprecedented measures to censor Russian disinformation.
“The state-owned Russia Today and Sputnik, as well as their subsidiaries, will no longer be able to spread their lies to justify Putin’s war and to sow division in our Union,” said the EU’s president, Ursula von der Leyen. “So we are developing tools to ban their toxic and harmful disinformation in Europe.”
EU industry chief Thierry Breton then insisted Google executives ban users pushing war propaganda as part of measures to stop disinformation after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and recommended the companies updated terms and conditions to allow users who disseminate war propaganda to be kicked off their platforms, Reuters reports.
“Freedom of expression does not cover war propaganda. For too long, content from Russia Today and other Russian state media has been amplified by algorithms and proposed as ‘recommended content’ to people who had never requested it,” Breton said in a statement after a video call with Google CEO Sundar Pichai and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki. “War propaganda should never be recommended content – what is more, it should have no place on online platforms at all. I count on the tech industry to take urgent and effective measures to counter disinformation.”
EU’s @ThierryBreton & @VeraJourova spoke with Google & YouTube CEOs, urged online platforms to step up efforts to address Russian war propaganda
— Lucía Caudet (@LuciaCaudet) February 28, 2022
Lockstep with the EU’s orders, Google issued a statement on Tuesday announcing it’s would censor content from Russian news networks and its subsidiary YouTube will block channels “connected to RT and Sputnik across Europe, effective immediately.”
Due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, we’re blocking YouTube channels connected to RT and Sputnik across Europe, effective immediately. It’ll take time for our systems to fully ramp up. Our teams continue to monitor the situation around the clock to take swift action.
— Google Europe (@googleeurope) March 1, 2022
Meta’s President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg announced on Twitter on Tuesday that the company is adhering to “requests from a number of governments” and restricting access to content from RT and Sputnik on its social media platforms Facebook and Instagram.
We have received requests from a number of Governments and the EU to take further steps in relation to Russian state controlled media. Given the exceptional nature of the current situation, we will be restricting access to RT and Sputnik across the EU at this time.
— Nick Clegg (@nickclegg) February 28, 2022
Chinese-owned TikTok also reportedly disabled Russia’s RT and Sputnik accounts on Tuesday.
Netflix announced Tuesday it is blocking all Russian TV channels and content providers, which were previously available on the platform in the country, despite a Russian law requiring major streaming services making a profit in the country to include them on their platform.
“Given the current situation, we have no plans to add these channels to our service,” a Netflix spokesperson told Variety on Monday.
Twitter announced that it will now add warning labels to content published by RT, Sputnik or Russian state-affiliated media websites.
“Since the invasion, we’ve seen more than 45,000 Tweets a day from individuals on Twitter sharing these links — meaning that now the overwhelming majority of content from state-affiliated media is coming from individuals sharing this content, rather than accounts we’ve been labeling for years as state-affiliated media,” Twitter spokesperson Elizabeth Busby told Politico on Monday.
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