YouTube is taking “unprecedented action” to address content violations following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Unlike those platforms that were closed in Russia, including Facebook and Instagram, YouTube remains afloat. It is very popular in the Russian Federation and has not been closed, even despite the fact that opposition figures, for example, Alexei Navalny, post their content on the platform. YouTube continues to operate in Russia despite crackdowns on pro-Kremlin content that breaks the rules, including its policy on major violent events that prohibits denying or downplaying the invasion.
YouTube removed 9,000 channels and over 70,000 videos related to the war in Ukraine for violating content rules. This is reported The Guardian, referring to Neil Mohan, director of product at YouTube. In particular, a video was removed where the Russian invasion of Ukraine was called a “liberation mission.”
After the February invasion, YouTube shut down a number of channels. The list of such, for example, included the channel of Vladimir Solovyov. And even channels linked to the Russian Ministry of Defense and the Russian Foreign Ministry have temporarily suspended video uploads in recent months for describing the war as a “liberation mission.” Neil Mohan explained to The Guardian that the company has a policy on major violent events such as Holocaust denial:
“We have a policy on major violent events, and that goes for things like denial of them, from the Holocaust to Sandy Hook. And of course, what is happening in Ukraine is a major violent event. And so we used this policy to take unprecedented action.”
The product director added that YouTube’s war news content had over 40 million views in Ukraine alone:
“The first and probably the main responsibility is to make sure that people who are looking for information about this event can get accurate, high-quality and reliable information on YouTube … The views of authoritative channels on our platform have grown significantly, of course, in Ukraine, as well as in countries surrounding it, in Poland, as well as in Russia itself.
Mohan explains that most of the removed content is intrusion narratives, although YouTube did not provide a list:
“I don’t have specific numbers, but you can imagine that many of them are narratives coming from the Russian government or Russian actors on behalf of the government.”
The platform also introduced a global ban on channels linked to Russian state media, including Sputnik and Russia Today.
While YouTube no longer allows ads in Russia on its platform, it has about 90 million users in the country. It is noted that in the Russian Federation YouTube can blockafter all, according to Roskomnadzor, YouTube is a “terrorist organization” that “distributes anti-Russian videos.”