Google’s parent company Alphabet said it has blocked several Russian channels affiliated with recent sanctions, including state-owned media outlet RT, from making money off advertising on its YouTube video platform.
“In light of extraordinary circumstances in Ukraine, we’re taking a number of actions. We’re pausing a number of channels’ ability to monetize on YouTube, including several Russian channels affiliated with recent sanctions. We will be significantly limiting recommendations to these channels,” a YouTube spokesman said in a statement Sunday. “And in response to a government request, we’ve restricted access to RT and a number of other channels in Ukraine.”
Some of Russia’s most prominent television figures, including the head of Russia’s RT broadcaster, Margarita Simonyan, were added to the European Union’s sanctions list last week for their role in spreading Russian propaganda.
Major tech companies are coming under mounting pressure to use their influence over the world’s most popular phones, apps and social media platforms to take action against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s digital minister, on Friday sent a letter to Apple chief executive Tim Cook calling on him to stop supplying products and services, including the App Store, to Russia.
Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called on the CEOs of major tech companies Friday to do more to counter information operations linked to Russia. He wrote to Alphabet chief executive Sundar Pichai that the company’s YouTube platform was still monetizing videos about the Ukrainian conflict from RT and other Russian state media organizations. RT’s YouTube accounts, including RT America, have continued to post content about Ukraine in recent days.
“Our teams are continuing to monitor closely for new developments, including evaluating what any new sanctions and export controls may mean for YouTube,” YouTube said Sunday, adding that the platform has “removed hundreds of channels and thousands of videos, including a number of channels for coordinated deceptive practices” over the past few days.
Cat Zakrzewski and Claire Parker contributed to this report.