Updated Feb 27, 2022 - World

Big Tech restricts Russian state media from buying ads

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Photo illustration: Mateusz Slodkowski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Google announced late Saturday it is blocking Russian state media channels from selling ads due to the invasion of Ukraine.

Why it matters: The move came hours after YouTube, which is owned by Google, said it was blocking Russian state media channels, including RT, from selling ads on YouTube globally or being accessible in Ukraine.

  • Twitter and Facebook have announced similar efforts to restrict Russian state accounts from being able to spread disinformation via advertising.

Details: A Google spokesperson told Axios the company was "pausing Google monetization of Russian state-funded media across our platforms" in "response to the war in Ukraine."

  • "We're actively monitoring new developments and will take further steps if necessary," the spokesperson added.
  • A YouTube spokesperson told Axios earlier Saturday that the platform was "pausing a number of channels’ ability to monetize on YouTube, including several Russian channels affiliated with recent sanctions" due to "extraordinary circumstances in Ukraine."
  • They added that YouTube will be “significantly limiting recommendations to these channels."
  • "And in response to a government request, we’ve restricted access to RT and a number of other channels in Ukraine. We will continue to monitor new developments and may take further actions."

Background: On Friday, Facebook parent Meta said it would prohibit Russian state media "from running ads or monetizing on our platform anywhere in the world," per a tweet from Facebook's head of security policy Nathaniel Gleicher.

  • Twitter on Friday also said it would temporarily pause advertisements in Ukraine and Russia "to ensure critical public safety information is elevated and ads don’t detract from it."

State of play: Facebook and Twitter, as well as other social networking companies, have for many months labeled accounts for outlets such as RT and Sputnik as Russian state media accounts.

  • But Russia is beginning to push back against efforts to fact-check content from those accounts, partially restricting Twitter and Facebook.

The big picture: Tech platforms have in the past restricted ads during times of uncertainty around breaking news to stop disinformation from spreading. Google and Facebook most notably paused political ads around the 2020 election.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from Google.

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