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Russian media watchdog bans Google from advertising its services

Agency upset YouTube hasn't removed 'fake' videos about activities it won't call 'war'

Russia's communications scold is fed up with all the misinformation online, at least with regard to Google and its YouTube subsidiary.

Roskomnadzor, the agency charged with monitoring and controlling media in Russia, introduced "coercive measures" that ban Google from promoting services deemed to be distributing "fake" – as defined by the Russian government – content.

Affected services, according to Russian business publication Kommersant, include Google Search, Google Play, YouTube, YouTube Music, Google Chat and Gmail. The measures also include requiring search engines (e.g. Yandex) that present information about Google services (i.e. link to them) to inform users that Google is violating Russian law.

"YouTube video hosting has become one of the key platforms spreading fakes about the course of a special military operation on the territory of Ukraine, discrediting the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation," the agency said.

"In addition," said Russia's media watchdog, "YouTube does not fight the dissemination of information by extremist organizations such as the Right Sector and the nationalist Azov Regiment. To date, more than 12,000 such prohibited materials remain unremoved."

For those unfamiliar with the term "special military operation," that's how Russia insists on referring to its war with Ukraine. "Invasion," another term that seems like it might be useful when trying to write about violent tank tourism, is also not okay.

Last month, Roskomnadzor adopted rules that penalize the distribution of false news about the Russian military with sentences as long as 15 years in prison. The agency has also directed that news organizations in Russia publish only information provided by official sources.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In any event, it appears doubtful Roskomnadzor's fit of pique will cause Chocolate Factory execs to lose much sleep. The ad biz isn't considered a significant player in the Russian advertising market, according Kommersant. And relations between Roskomnadzor and Google have been frosty since Russia began its unsolicited demolition of occupied homes in Ukraine.

Google stopped selling ads in Russia on March 3rd and disallowed Russia government media channels from earning ad revenue on February 26th. By March 11, YouTube began blocking access to Russian government media channels globally.

Roskomnadzor subsequently accused Google and its YouTube subsidiary of terrorist activities – never a sign of a healthy relationship. And the comms bureau's decision late last month to prepare two administrative cases against Google for failing to remove unacceptable content makes this latest ban look all the more inevitable in hindsight. ®

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