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Alphabet Blocks RT, Sputnik YouTube Channels, News and App from Play Store

March 2nd, 2022 15:33

US media is report­ing that Google’s par­ent com­pa­ny Alpha­bet announced it is block­ing the YouTube chan­nels of RT and Sput­nik and remov­ing them from its news-relat­ed fea­tures. The move comes after the EU decid­ed to ban the Russ­ian state-backed media out­lets over Ukraine-relat­ed dis­in­for­ma­tion, Accord­ing to a report by RFE/RL:

March 1, 2022 Google Europe says it is block­ing YouTube chan­nels asso­ci­at­ed with pro-Krem­lin Russ­ian media out­lets RT and Sput­nik across Europe amid Moscow’s inva­sion of Ukraine.  Google, which owns YouTube, said in a tweet on March 1 that the move will take effect imme­di­ate­ly, though “it’ll take time for our sys­tems to ful­ly ramp up.”  “Our teams con­tin­ue to mon­i­tor the sit­u­a­tion around the clock to take swift action,” it added. In a sep­a­rate move, Google’s par­ent com­pa­ny, Alpha­bet, con­firmed to Reuters that it had removed RT and oth­er state-fund­ed out­lets from its news-relat­ed fea­tures, includ­ing the Google News search tool.  Kent Walk­er, Google’s pres­i­dent of glob­al affairs, said in a blog post that “in this extra­or­di­nary cri­sis we are tak­ing extra­or­di­nary mea­sures to stop the spread of mis­in­for­ma­tion and dis­rupt dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paigns online.”

Read the rest here.

Inter­na­tion­al media report­ed lat­er that Alpha­bet and Apple said they would also block RT and Sput­nik mobile apps in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store in Europe. Accord­ing to a Reuters report:

March 2, 2022 Alpha­bet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google said on Tues­day that it has blocked mobile apps con­nect­ed to RT and Sput­nik from its Play store, in line with an ear­li­er move to remove the Russ­ian state pub­lish­ers from its news-relat­ed fea­tures. […] Apple Inc (AAPL.O) said on Tues­day that RT News and Sput­nik News were no longer avail­able for down­load from its App Store out­side Russia.

Read the rest here.

In 2017, the NYT char­ac­ter­ized RT (for­mer­ly Rus­sia Today) as follows:

Ana­lysts are sharply divid­ed about the influ­ence of RT. Point­ing to its minus­cule rat­ings num­bers, many cau­tion against over­stat­ing its impact. Yet focus­ing on rat­ings may miss the point, says Peter Pomer­ant­sev, who wrote a book three years ago that described Russia’s use of tele­vi­sion for pro­pa­gan­da. “Rat­ings aren’t the main thing for them,” he said. “These are cam­paigns for finan­cial, polit­i­cal and media influ­ence.” RT and Sput­nik pro­pel those cam­paigns by help­ing cre­ate the fod­der for thou­sands of fake news prop­a­ga­tors and pro­vid­ing anoth­er out­let for hacked mate­r­i­al that can serve Russ­ian inter­ests, said Ben Nim­mo, who stud­ies RT for the Atlantic Coun­cil. What­ev­er its impact, RT is unques­tion­ably a case study in the com­plex­i­ty of mod­ern pro­pa­gan­da. It is both a slick mod­ern tele­vi­sion net­work, dressed up with great visu­als and styl­ish pre­sen­ters, and a con­tent farm that helps feed the Euro­pean far right. View­ers find it dif­fi­cult to dis­cern exact­ly what is jour­nal­ism and what is pro­pa­gan­da, what may be “fake news” and what is real but pre­sent­ed with a strong slant.

Sput­nik is a state-owned Russ­ian news agency estab­lished in 2014 and oper­at­ing in over 30 lan­guages. It has been fre­quent­ly accused of spread­ing dis­in­for­ma­tion and is mon­i­tored by the strate­gic com­mu­ni­ca­tion divi­sions of the EU and NATO.

The Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report has exten­sive­ly cov­ered the activ­i­ties of RT and Sput­nik as well as Russ­ian dis­in­for­ma­tion on Ukraine.