YouTube says that it will start completely blocking YouTube channels funded by the Russian government, after it blocked channels like RT and Sputnik in Europe earlier this month. The company also announced that it would be removing content about the Russian invasion of Ukraine that denies, minimizes, or trivializes “well-documented violent events.”
At time of writing, two American Verge staffers were still able to access livestreams from RT, a channel that YouTube’s interface notes is “funded in whole or in part by the Russian government.” According to a tweet from the YouTube Insider account, the change is supposed to be effective immediately, but the company says it expects its systems to take some time to roll it out.
2/ In line with that, we are also now blocking access to YouTube channels associated with Russian state-funded media globally, expanding from across Europe. This change is effective immediately, and we expect our systems to take time to ramp up.— YouTubeInsider (@YouTubeInsider) March 11, 2022
Several platforms, including YouTube, had blocked European users from accessing content made by Russian state media outlets. The Russian government has responded to tech companies’ policies by blocking or limiting access to sites like Facebook or Twitter. Today, it announced that it will be banning Instagram in the country starting March 14th.
While not being able to access content from channels like RT and Sputnik worldwide is an escalation from YouTube, Google had already made it so the channels couldn’t monetize their videos. In late February, the company said that Russian state media outlets wouldn’t be allowed to run ads on their videos. Last week, Google went one step further by pausing all ad sales in Russia.