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YouTube takes action against RT after Twitter access restricted in Russia

YouTube takes action against RT after Twitter access restricted in Russia
In a statement on Saturday, a YouTube spokesperson said the platform was taking action against a number of accounts.

YouTube has announced it is taking action against Russian state-owned broadcaster RT after access to Twitter was restricted in the country amid the invasion of Ukraine.

In a statement on Saturday, a YouTube spokesperson said it was taking action against a number of accounts, including Russian channels affiliated with recent sanctions.

The platform said it has limited the ability for RT and other Russian channels to make money from advertisements, following a similar move by Facebook.

It also said access to these channels will be restricted in Ukraine after a “government request” and their videos will come up less often in recommendations.

Citing “extraordinary circumstances”, the YouTube spokesperson said: “We’re pausing a number of channels’ ability to monetise on YouTube, including several Russian channels affiliated with recent sanctions.

“We will be significantly limiting recommendations to these channels. And in response to a government request, we’ve restricted access to RT and a number of other channels in Ukraine.”

The platform said it will “continue to monitor new developments and may take further actions”.

It comes after Ukraine’s Digital Minister Mykhailo Fedorov tweeted earlier on Saturday: “I’ve contacted @YouTube to block the propagandist Russian channels — such as Russia 24, TASS, RIA Novosti.

“If they are afraid of speaking the truth, so we should stop this flow of poisonous lies.”

Earlier on Saturday, Twitter said it was “aware” that access to the platform had been restricted for some people in Russia, adding it is “working to keep our service safe and accessible”.

NetBlocks, a London-based company that monitors web outages and internet access throughout the world, reported access to Twitter and its backend servers is being “restricted on leading networks” in Russia.

It added: “Circumvention is currently possible using VPN services, which can help users work around the online censorship.”

On Friday, Russia also limited access to Facebook after the social media provider refused to stop fact-checking and labelling content from state-owned organisations, former deputy prime minister Sir Nick Clegg said.

Russian authorities announced the “partial restriction” after the social media network limited the accounts of several Kremlin-backed outlets over the invasion of Ukraine.

Russian state communications watchdog Roskomnadzor said it had demanded that Facebook lifts the restrictions it placed on Thursday on state news agency RIA Novosti, state TV channel Zvezda, and pro-Kremlin news sites Lenta.Ru and Gazeta.Ru.

Sir Nick, vice president of global affairs at Facebook’s parent company Meta, said that “ordinary Russians are using our apps to express themselves and organise for action” and the company wants “them to continue to make their voices heard”.

Sir Nick Clegg said Facebook had refused to stop fact-checking content from state-owned organisations in Russia (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Sir Nick Clegg said Facebook had refused to stop fact-checking content from state-owned organisations in Russia (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

He tweeted: “Yesterday Russian authorities ordered us to stop the independent fact-checking and labelling of content on Facebook by four Russian state-owned media organisations.

“We refused. As a result, they have announced they will be restricting the use of our services.

“Ordinary Russians are using our apps to express themselves and organise for action.

“We want them to continue to make their voices heard, share what’s happening, and organise through Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger.”

RT has been contacted for comment.