YouTube is still up and running in Russia. Its citizens can’t monetize their content anymore but YouTube’s management believes it's vital to deliver independent news to Russia.
In the aftermath of the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine, many social media platforms stopped operating in Russia. YouTube continues to work in the country despite mounting pressure from the Russian government. However, Russians can’t monetize their content anymore
"As soon as the war broke out, we realized this was an incredibly important time for us to get it right with regard to our responsibility. We made a number of really tough decisions. One of them involved how we handle Russian state-sponsored media," Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, said during the annual World Economic Forum in Davos.
According to a recent report, Youtube has removed 9,000 channels and 70,000 videos related to Russia's invasion of Ukraine since late February.
Recently, YouTube blocked access to the LenTV24 channel for broadcasting events dedicated to Victory Day, although the profile was restored after the involvement of the Russian communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor. In April, Roskomnadzor demanded Google, YouTube's parent company, lift restrictions on Russian state media. YouTube has blocked the channels of the State TV and Radio Company Stavropol, Krasnodar, Bashkortostan, Novosibirsk, Kuzbass, and Vainakh of the Chechen Republic globally.
"We also extended our policies with regard to how we handle verified violent events, an event that denies something like the Holocaust would be against the YouTube policies. What we saw, if there were denial or trivialization associated with the war in Ukraine, that would also be a violation," Wojcicki said.
Despite Roskomnadzor repeatedly calling YouTube's content moderation policy unacceptable, the social media giant continues serving Russian citizens.
"We are seeing in this conflict that information plays a key role. Information can be weaponized, and that's why we wanted to focus so much on ensuring that we have the right policies and enforcement associated with that. We are still serving in Russia, and we believe that is important because we can deliver independent news to Russia. The average citizen in Russia can access for free the same information that you can access here from Davos, which we believe is important to be able to help citizens know what's going on," she said.
While accusing others of censorship, the Kremlin goes to great lengths to block narratives that challenge its ‘truths.’ Foreign media outlets were forced to suspend reporting in Russia after Vladimir Putin signed a so-called "fake news" law that threatens journalists with up to 15 years in jail.
The so-called ‘fake news’ law targets anyone who dares to publicly disagree with the Kremlin's view on the war in Ukraine, which Russia sees only as a special military operation.
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