YouTube has brutally cracked down on videos and channels related to the Russian-Ukrainian crisis, and to date it has removed more than 70,000 videos and 9,000 channels for violating the platform’s content rules.
Whenever it seems that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is coming to an end, something happens to start the conflict anew. Russia’s renewed offensive in the Donbas and Mykolayiv region has led Kyiv to reiterate its uncompromising stance and rule out any chance of a ceasefire or territorial concessions.
The conflict did not remain only on earth and hit the Internet. Western companies such as Apple have either seized operations, sales or services in the country. Services such as YouTube and Google have banned channels linked to Russian state media (including Russia Today and Sputnik).
In response, Russia has banned social media giants such as Facebook and Instagram, calling their parent company Meta “extremist.” It also restricted access to Twitter, whose future uncertain one, too.
Platforms such as YouTube have been crucial in reporting on the latest news of the Russian invasion, and news content about the conflict on the platform has garnered more than 40 million views in Ukraine alone. It appears that some of the deleted videos violated YouTube’s policy on violent events and trivialized the event, calling it a “liberation mission.”
We do not know exactly what content and channels have been removed so far, but it seems that one of them was related to the pro-Kremlin journalist Vladimir Solovyov. “You can imagine that in many ways these are stories that come from the Russian government or Russian actors on behalf of the Russian government,” said Neil Mohan, YouTube’s director of products.
Surprisingly, YouTube was not shut down in Russia, even as the country continued to crack down on Western media and services. Today, the platform has 90 million users and remains the largest video-sharing site in the country, even after it stopped advertising on its platform and continued to provide Russian citizens with information about the uncensored war.
“The first and probably most important responsibility is to make sure that people who are looking for information about this event can get accurate, high-quality and credible information on YouTube,” Mohan said. “Consumption of reputable channels on our platform has grown significantly, of course, in Ukraine, but also in the countries surrounding Ukraine, Poland, as well as in Russia itself.”