Russia threatens to ban YouTube after state-run channels got dinged for COVID misinformation

Ailan Evans, DCNF

Russia said it was developing plans to ban YouTube after its state-backed broadcaster RT had its German-language channels removed for COVID-19 misinformation.

YouTube banned two of RT’s German-language channels on Tuesday, saying the broadcaster had breached the platform’s terms of service. Russia said it was developing plans to pursue “symmetrically retaliatory measures” against YouTube and German media over the ban, according to a Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release Wednesday.

“YouTube has always had clear community guidelines that outline what is allowed on the platform,” a YouTube spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “RT DE was issued a strike for uploading content that violated our COVID misinformation policy. This resulted in a suspension of their posting privileges.”

“During this suspension, they tried to circumvent the enforcement by using another channel and as a result both channels were terminated for breaking YouTube Terms of Service,” the spokesperson told the DCNF.

The spokesperson did not comment on which videos were the reason for the suspension.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign affairs condemned the ban as an act of political censorship, accusing Germany of conspiring with the tech company to remove information on behalf of the German government.

“YouTube committed an act of unprecedented information aggression against RT’s German-language projects with Germany’s tacit consent,” the ministry tweeted. “We asked Russia’s competent agencies to adopt retaliatory measures regarding YouTube and the German media.”

The country’s media and telecommunications regulator Roskomnadzor said it had informed Google that it would restrict Russians’ access to YouTube unless the company reinstated the channels, according to Reuters.

Tensions between Google, the owner of YouTube, and Russia flared earlier this month after the tech giant was forced to delete, under threat of prosecution, a voting app linked to dissident and Vladimir Putin critic Alexei Navalny from its Google Play Store. Russia has intensified its crackdown on social media in recent years, slowing uploads to Twitter and suing social media companies for not removing content encouraging political dissent.

The YouTube spokesperson did not comment on the tech giant’s response to Russia’s actions. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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