By Ailan Evans
Daily Caller News Foundation
American tech companies have taken steps to limit the spread of content from Russian state-backed media outlets on their platforms, despite pressure from Russia and threats of restrictions.
Facebook parent company Meta announced Monday that its platforms would ban Russian state-backed media channels including Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik, citing requests from “governments” and the European Union (EU).
“We have received requests from a number of Governments and the EU to take further steps in relation to Russian state controlled media,” Nick Clegg, Meta’s vice president of global affairs, tweeted Monday. “Given the exceptional nature of the current situation, we will be restricting access to RT and Sputnik across the EU at this time.”
We have received requests from a number of Governments and the EU to take further steps in relation to Russian state controlled media. Given the exceptional nature of the current situation, we will be restricting access to RT and Sputnik across the EU at this time.
— Nick Clegg (@nickclegg) February 28, 2022
Twitter announced Monday it would begin labeling posts linking to Russian state-backed media sites such as RT in an effort to “significantly reduce the circulation” of pro-Russian content and disinformation on its platform; the company previously suspended all advertising in Russia and Ukraine on Friday and limited recommendations from certain accounts in an attempt to curb the spread of viral disinformation.
Twitter also took action Sunday against a network of accounts which the social media platform alleged were designed to disrupt discourse surrounding the invasion of Ukraine in violation of Twitter’s policies, a company spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Today, we’re adding labels to Tweets that share links to Russian state-affiliated media websites and are taking steps to significantly reduce the circulation of this content on Twitter.
We’ll roll out these labels to other state-affiliated media outlets in the coming weeks. pic.twitter.com/57Dycmn8lx
— Yoel Roth (@yoyoel) February 28, 2022
However, tech companies have faced threats and partial restrictions from Russia due to their action; the country restricted access to Meta platforms Friday after alleging Facebook was censoring Russian posts. The country’s communications agency alleged it had taken the issue up with Meta, but was ignored.
Twitter said Saturday it was restricted for certain users in Russia, while Russia’s communications agency demanded Sunday that Google and YouTube lift monetization restrictions on Russian state-controlled outlets.
Online platforms have also faced pressure from Western governments and lawmakers, who have urged them to take stronger action against Russian media and alleged disinformation campaigns.
Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner wrote to the CEOs of major tech platforms including Meta, Google and Twitter on Friday asking them to put in place safeguards to curb Russian disinformation, specifically citing the monetization of channels owned by RT and Sputnik.
I’m concerned about Russian disinformation spreading online, so today I wrote to the CEOs of major tech companies to ask them to restrict the spread of Russian propaganda.
— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) February 25, 2022
EU officials have attempted to pressure American tech companies to ban Russian government accounts, with European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton urging Google and YouTube chief executives Sundar Pichai and Susan Wojcicki to take action in a Sunday conference call. Breton cited former President Donald Trump’s ban from social media platforms due to his incendiary rhetoric preceding the Jan. 6 Capitol riots as precedent for the tech companies to act.
A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment on whether the company would consider banning the accounts of Kremlin officials. Meta and Google did not responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
This story originally was published by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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