Google has asked YouTube to stop spreading threats against Russians

Russia on Friday demanded that Google stop broadcasting threats against Russian citizens on its YouTube video-sharing platform, a move that could promote a full block of services on Russian soil. The regulator, Roskomnadzor, said the platform’s advertisements called for suspension of communications between the railway networks of Russia and Belarus, and their promotion was evidence of the US company’s anti-Russian stance. It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post.

“The actions of the YouTube administration are of a terrorist nature and pose a threat to the lives and health of Russian citizens,” the regulator said.

“Roskomnadzor strongly opposes such advertising and claims that Google will stop broadcasting anti-Russian videos as soon as possible.”

Google has removed an ad that was flagged off by the Russian government, according to a source familiar with the matter who declined to comment.

The dispute was the latest in a series between Moscow and foreign technology companies over Ukraine.

YouTube, which has blocked Russian state-funded media around the world, is under intense pressure from Russia’s communications regulators and politicians.

Moscow blocked Instagram this week out of anger at allowing Meta Ukraine’s social media users to post messages such as “Death to Russian invaders”, already blocking access to Facebook because it said the platform was restricted to Russian media.

Russian media, including the RIA and Sputnik, quoted an unnamed source as saying that YouTube could be blocked next week or before Friday.

Domestic options

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev wrote a scathing critique of foreign social media outlets on Friday, naming both Meta and YouTube, but hinting that the door to their possible return to the Russian market would remain unknown.

Medvedev, who served as president from 2008 to 2012 and is now Russia’s deputy security secretary, wrote that “the guardians of freedom have allowed their social media users to wish for the death of the Russian military.” Messaging app Telegram.

Medvedev says Russia, with the tools and experience needed to develop its own social media, cannot continue the “one-sided game” of Western agencies controlling the flow of information.

“In order to return, they must prove their independence and good attitude towards Russia and its citizens,” he wrote. “However, it is not true that they will be able to dip their toes twice in the same water.”

Russia’s northern VKontakte on Facebook, breaking the record for activity on its platform since Russia sent troops to Ukraine on February 24.

The site has attracted 300,000 new users in the two weeks since Russia called its neighbor a “special operation” to de-nazify and de-nazify.

On the day Instagram was blocked in Russia, Vikontakte said its daily domestic audience grew by 8.7 percent to more than 50 million, a new record.

Anton Gorelkin, a member of Russia’s State Duma Committee on Information and Communications, pointed to a service that would help Russians move their videos from YouTube to their domestic equivalent, RuTube.

“It’s not like I’m telling everyone to leave YouTube right away,” he told his telegram channel. “But, perhaps, in light of recent events, it’s worth following the policy of not keeping all your eggs in one basket.”

He said earlier this week that if YouTube continued to “act as a weapon in the information war” it could face the same consequences as Instagram.

Russian technology entrepreneurs said this week that they would launch the photo-sharing application Rasgram in the domestic market to help fill the void left by Instagram.

In November, Gazprom Media launched Yappy as a domestic competitor to the video-sharing platform TikTok.

Thomson Reuters 2022

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