In succession, major online platforms in the EU are cutting off access to Russian state media RT and Sputnik. It started last night with Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram. Then came the Chinese TikTok and this morning Google reported that access to YouTube within the EU is also closed.
The decisions of Meta, Google and TikTok follow increasing pressure from the EU to do more against disinformation about the war in Ukraine. Reference is often made to Russian state media, which consistently spread President Putin’s views. These media have millions of viewers and followers on platforms such as Facebook and YouTube.
Several European governments and the EU have urged the tech giant to do so. Nick Clegg, top lobbyist at Meta, explains that the decision was made because of “the exceptional nature of the current situation”.
Social media platform TikTok will therefore also limit access in the European Union to a number of Russian state-controlled media, including RT and Sputnik. TikTok, a subsidiary of Chinese company ByteDance, told The Wall Street Journal yesterday that the company made this decision after talks with the EU.
Ukraine’s deputy prime minister calls Meta’s decision a way to “stop Russian lies”, and also calls on YouTube and Google to stop giving the media a platform.
The European Commission already announced on Sunday that it wanted to close access to RT and Sputnik. They “will no longer be able to spread their lies to justify Putin’s war and sow division in our union,” said committee chairman von der Leyen at the time.
Previously, it was no longer possible for Russian state media to advertise on online platforms or to monetize their content through advertising. Their messages were also checked for facts and it was stated that they were state media. Furthermore, watching state media from Ukraine via the online platforms was made impossible.