You’re only allowed to see one narrative if you’re in Europe

Source: Steve Watson

Big tech has moved in lockstep to censor Russian news networks Sputnik and RT, further ensuring that westerners only receive one narrative when it comes to coverage of the conflict in Ukraine.

Facebook is restricting access to content from RT and Sputnik on both its main social media platform and Instagram following “requests from a number of governments,” according to he company’s vice president Nick Clegg.

The move comes just hours after the EU announced it will ban RT and Sputnik broadcasts across the bloc, with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen declaring that the networks are spreading “harmful disinformation,” and that the EU is further “developing tools to ban toxic and harmful disinformation in Europe.”

Following pressure from EU officials on Google and its subsidiary YouTube to crackdown on content from the Russian news networks, the tech giant also announced that it will block YouTube channels “connected to RT and Sputnik across Europe, effective immediately”.

Facebook and Google already both barred RT and Sputnik from monetizing content on the platforms last week.

Users who attempt to visit the YouTube channels of either Sputnik or RT or watch videos posted from those channels are now met with a message saying “this channel is not available in your country,” and “this video is not available in your country,” This even applies to non-EU countries, including the UK.

At time of writing, RT and Sputnik’s YouTube channels are still accessible in the U.S., and Europeans can access the channels and videos if they use a VPN.

In the UK, RT TV broadcasts are not yet being blocked (Sputnik stopped broadcasting last year) because the country is no longer a part of the EU and there is a broadcast regulator that is somewhat independent of the government.

Twitter will also begin putting warning labels on all content related to Sputnik and RT, as well as continuing “to de-amplify articles from these websites by barring the URLs from the platform’s top search function,” according to Politico.

Netflix has also announced it is blocking all Russian TV channels, which were previously available on the platform in the country owing to a Russian law mandating they be included.

It is very clear that big tech has taken all of these actions immediately at the direct behest of the EU, and not of individual governments. Countries such as the UK are not even a part of the EU, yet the platforms have taken the same actions there. Critics have warned that sets another dangerous precedent and highlights that information can be completely restricted with the proverbial flick of a switch without any government involvement or oversight.