YouTube cuts off RT channels

Video platform blocks RT channels from being seen in Ukraine

YouTube has without warning declared RT’s channel is forbidden to monetize, while continuing to block certain content from appearing in English or Russian inside Ukraine, according to multiple communications received from the video platform on Saturday.

A spokesperson for the Alphabet subsidiary confirmed to Reuters RT’s content would appear “less often” in recommendations, citing “extraordinary circumstances” and adding that the ban had been requested by the Ukrainian government. The notice warning RT of the halt to monetization merely states that the channel no longer complies with YouTube’s monetization policies – without revealing which rule, if any, the channel violated or when any alleged violation took place.

Another message referencing the entire RT channel claimed “the content” – without specifying which content – had been blocked from appearing on Ukrainian YouTube. No reason for the ban was given, nor any means of challenging the ruling.

YouTube is far from the only social media platform to declare open season on RT and other Russian media. Facebook announced on Friday that it would no longer allow Russian state media to advertise or monetize their content on its platform “anywhere in the world.” Access to the social network had been restricted since earlier in the week, when Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor accused Facebook and its parent company Meta of breaching “fundamental human rights” by censoring the media outlets.

Facebook also reportedly allowed a special exception to its usual rules banning the praise of neo-Nazi and other hate groups to allow posts cheering on Ukraine’s infamous Azov Battalion, whose members openly sport Nazi regalia and espouse racist ideology.

And Australia’s satellite operator Foxtel joined the pile-on on Saturday, declaring it would be suspending the distribution of RT’s channel in Australia “in view of concern about the situation in Ukraine.”

Ukrainian leaders have reached out to other Big Tech bigwigs in an effort to draft them into the battle for the hearts and minds of social media users, from Apple’s Tim Cook – who while “deeply concerned” about the situation (according to his Twitter at least) declined to respond – to Elon Musk, who was asked to cough up free Starlink satellites, but also hasn’t responded.

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