YouTube moves to block Russian state-funded media globally

Meanwhile, Russia banned Instagram and is reportedly considering labeling Meta an "extremist" organization.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

YouTube on Friday said it is blocking access to YouTube channels globally associated with Russian state-funded media, 10 days after initially blocking the channels in Europe. While the change is effective immediately, "we expect our systems to take time to ramp up," YouTube said via an official Twitter account. 

The Alphabet-owned video platform said it's banning the Russian channels because they violate YouTube's rules against denying, minimizing or trivializing well-documented violent events. The company is also removing content about Russia's invasion of Ukraine that violates this policy.

YouTube has already removed more than 1,000 channels and over 15,000 videos related to the invasion, according to the company. 

At the same time, YouTube said: "Our systems are also connecting people to trusted news sources. So far, our breaking news and top news shelves on our homepage have received more than 17M views in Ukraine."

Russia's military actions have put the country at odds with a number of social media platforms and other tech companies, as both sides of the conflict seek to influence its trajectory with control of the internet. 

Also on Friday, Russian communications agency Roskomnadzor said it will ban Instagram beginning March 14, following parent company Meta's decision to allow content from Ukraine that calls for violence against Russian invaders. A week ago, Russia blocked access to Facebook on the same grounds. 

Meanwhile, Nick Clegg, Facebook's president of global affairs and the former UK deputy prime minister, responded to reports that the Russian government is considering designating Meta as an extremist organization. Reuters reported that Russia has opened a criminal case against Meta, given the change in the company's hate speech rules. 

"I want to be crystal clear: our policies are focused on protecting people's rights to speech as an expression of self-defense in reaction to a military invasion of their country," Clegg wrote in a statement. "The fact is, if we applied our standard content policies without any adjustments we would now be removing content from ordinary Ukrainians expressing their resistance and fury at the invading military forces, which would rightly be viewed as unacceptable."

Clegg added that the policy is temporary and only applies in Ukraine. 

"We have no quarrel with the Russian people," he wrote. "There is no change at all in our policies on hate speech as far as the Russian people are concerned. We will not tolerate Russophobia or any kind of discrimination, harassment or violence towards Russians on our platform."

Editorial standards