YouTube hits RT in the pockets while Russia cracks down on social media dissent

San Bruno, California - YouTube has announced it is taking action against a number of Russian channels, including the state-controlled broadcaster RT, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

YouTube has blocked RT's ability to monetize its channel.
YouTube has blocked RT's ability to monetize its channel.  © 123RF/stlegat

A YouTube spokesperson, in a statement on Saturday, said: "In light of extraordinary circumstances in Ukraine, we're taking a number of actions."

"We're pausing a number of channels' ability to monetize 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."

"We will continue to monitor new developments and may take further actions."

Twitter has meanwhile said access to the platform is being restricted in Russia in the wake of the country's invasion of Ukraine.

In a tweet, Twitter said it is "aware" that access to the platform has been restricted for some people in Russia, adding it is "working to keep our service safe and accessible".

Facebook and Twitter report disruption

A number of Russian news outlets have been placed under restrictions.
A number of Russian news outlets have been placed under restrictions.  © IMAGO / ITAR-TASS

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 limited access to Facebook after the social media provider refused to stop fact-checking and labelling content from state-owned organizations, top Facebook official 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.

Clegg, vice president of global affairs at Facebook's parent company Meta, said that "ordinary Russians are using our apps to express themselves and organize for action" and the company wants "them to continue to make their voices heard".

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 organizations."

"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 organize through Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger."

Cover photo: 123RF/stlegat

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