ArchivedJuly 6 2022, 14:25 pm

Russian Media Outlet RT Evades YouTube Ban, Rebrands as ‘Dig Deep Documentary’

The Insti­tute for Strate­gic Dia­logue (ISD), an inter­na­tion­al think tank, is report­ing that while RT and oth­er Russ­ian out­lets are banned on YouTube, RT con­tent has man­aged to side­step this ban with a rebrand of the same con­tent under the new name ‘Dig Deep Doc­u­men­tary.’ Accord­ing to an ISD report:

July 5, 2022 On 11 March, YouTube announced that it would block Russ­ian state media from its plat­form glob­al­ly in response to the Russ­ian inva­sion of Ukraine, and sub­se­quent inter­na­tion­al sanc­tions. This fol­lowed an ear­li­er block on the Russ­ian state media chan­nels Rus­sia Today (RT) and Sput­nik on YouTube in Europe. […] For over a decade RT’s YouTube chan­nel racked up mil­lions of sub­scribers and bil­lions of views, hit­ting 10 bil­lion views in 2020, and plac­ing it ahead of major West­ern news net­works, includ­ing the BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera and Fox News. […] On 17 April, just over a month after RT was banned, a YouTube chan­nel called Dig Deep Doc­u­men­tary was cre­at­ed. Accord­ing to the channel’s descrip­tion, its pur­pose was to pro­vide an “in-depth analy­sis of the cur­rent polit­i­cal and social agen­da. We offer infor­ma­tion a main­stream YouTube chan­nel would nev­er give. Our view­ers get a wider per­spec­tive on the issue. Join us if you like to hear all sides to the sto­ry. We are bring­ing the truth to the whole world about Rus­sia-Ukraine [sic] con­flict and what is going on in Ukraine right now.” The con­tent uploaded by Dig Deep Doc­u­men­tary is RT con­tent with the RT water­mark removed and replaced with a Dig Deep (DD) water­mark. […] In addi­tion to news clips and footage that pre­vi­ous­ly aired on RT’s chan­nels, Dig Deep Doc­u­men­tary also (as the name sug­gests) pub­lish­es RT’s doc­u­men­taries. This includes, for exam­ple, RT’s newest doc­u­men­tary ‘Lugan­sk: Road to Inde­pen­dence 2022–2014’, a pro­pa­gan­da film about the occu­pied Lugan­sk region, which has been con­trolled by pro-Russ­ian mili­tia since 2014.

Read the rest here.

The ISD report notes that the Dig Deep Doc­u­men­tary YouTube account appears to oper­ate with RT’s knowl­edge and endorse­ment because a ver­i­fied RT Face­book account has pro­mot­ed the YouTube chan­nel, encour­ag­ing fol­low­ers to watch, sub­scribe and share the channel.

In Novem­ber, the Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ed on the cen­tral impor­tance of YouTube to Russia’s glob­al influ­ence, not­ing that a ban of Russia’s media out­lets on YouTube would rep­re­sent a dev­as­tat­ing blow to its infor­ma­tion war. We also report­ed that RT en Español, the Span­ish-lan­guage chan­nel of Russ­ian broad­cast­er RT, was the sec­ond most-watched Span­ish-lan­guage news chan­nel on YouTube. Recent GIOR cov­er­age of Russ­ian dis­in­for­ma­tion on YouTube has included:

  • In June, we report­ed that YouTube blocked almost 500 pro-Russ­ian chan­nels with an audi­ence of over 15 mil­lion sub­scribers at the request of Ukrain­ian intelligence.
  • In June, we report­ed that the YouTube chan­nel of pro-Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­dist Patrick Lan­cast­er has grown from 57,500 sub­scribers to more than 500,000 since the begin­ning of Russia’s inva­sion of Ukraine.
  • In Octo­ber, we report­ed that YouTube said it had removed more than two mil­lion Russ­ian videos since 2019.


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