YouTube blocks Russian state-funded media channels globally

YouTube app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken, July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

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OAKLAND, Calif., March 11 (Reuters) – YouTube is immediately blocking access around the world to channels associated with Russian state-funded media, it said on Friday, citing a policy barring content that denies, minimizes or trivializes well-documented violent events .

The world’s most used streaming video service, which is owned by Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google, said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine now fell under its violent events policy and violating material would be removed.

YouTube spokesman Farshad Shadloo said the blocking of the Russian outlets was in line with that policy.

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Previously, YouTube had blocked leading Russia state-backed channels RT and Sputnik across Europe. read more

Russian state media have called restrictions placed on them by distributors, which include app stores and other social media services, unjustified censorship.

“The blocking by YouTube is nothing but a new turn of an atrocious attack on one of the fundamental principles of a democratic society – that is freedom of the press,” Sputnik said in a statement on Friday.

YouTube declined to specify which and how many channels had been blocked globally, or whether they ever would be restored.

Its policy states channels may be permanently blocked for repeated violations, a single case of severe abuse, or when they are dedicated to violating content.

Workers across Google had been urging YouTube to take additional punitive measures against Russian channels, accusing them of spreading false narratives about the Ukrainian leadership and civilian deaths during the war, according to three employees at the company.

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Reporting by Paresh Dave Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Rosalba O’Brien

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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