In brief: Despite YouTube being one of the few Western platforms not to have been shut down in Russia, the site has removed more than 70,000 videos and 9,000 channels related to the war in Ukraine, often due to the invasion being referred to as a “liberation mission. ”
The Guardian reports that YouTube has removed thousands of pro-Kremlin and Russian state media channels for violating its guidelines relating to the Ukraine conflict. The content goes against the company’s major violent events policy, which applies to the denial of events such as the Holocaust and Sandy Hook.
Google suspended all advertising in Russia, including on YouTube, following the invasion. It also refused to remove content relating to the war that Russia deemed illegal, which led to Google News being banned in the country. However, YouTube, which has 90 million users in Russia, remains untouched.
“YouTube remains the largest video-sharing site up and running in Russia itself,” YouTube’s chief product officer, Neal Mohan, told The Guardian. “So YouTube is a place where Russian citizens can get uncensored information about the war, including from many of the same authoritative channels that we all have access to outside of the country. We remain an important platform for Russian citizens themselves as this crisis continues to evolve.”
Mohan added that YouTube’s news content on the war had received more than 40 million views in Ukraine alone.
“The consumption of authoritative channels on our platform has grown significantly, of course in Ukraine, but also in countries surrounding Ukraine, Poland, and also within Russia itself.”
Last week, the Russian subsidiary of Google said it would file for bankruptcy after authorities seized its bank account, leaving the company unable to meet financial obligations, including paying staff, suppliers, and vendors.
Russia fined Google 7.2 billion rubles, around $98 million, in December for failing to remove content authorities deemed illegal. More recently, a Russian TV channel owned by a sanctioned billionaire claimed authorities seized 1 billion rubles (about $15 million) from Google in April for failing to restore access to its YouTube account.