Sun. May 15th, 2022

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.”

Meta, along with Google and YouTube, had already prevented Russian state-controlled media from earning ad revenue on their platforms. Google has also banned downloads of RT on its devices in Ukraine.

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.

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.

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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