The Russian Foreign Ministry threatened YouTube with harsh retaliatory measures after the video-sharing service blocked two German-language accounts of Russian state media, according to a report by the Russian TASS News agency. Russia even went so far as to label the suspensions an “information war”.
The YouTube accounts, RT Germany and The Missing Part, were reportedly deleted following the spread of misinformation about the Covid-19 pandemic and had a combined subscriber number of around 700,000 prior to the deletion.
RT Deutschland was initially banned from publishing new videos for a week after violating YouTube’s Covid-19 Misinformation rules, but the account was completely deleted after RT allegedly re-uploaded the content to another channel called The Missing Part, or “The Missing Part”.
“In view of the nature of the incident, which fully corresponds to the logic of the information war unleashed against Russia, it appears not only appropriate but also necessary to take symmetrical retaliatory measures against the German media in Russia, taking this into account [the German media] have been caught interfering in the internal affairs of our country several times in the past, ”said the Russian Foreign Ministry TASS on Tuesday.
“In view of the fact that multiple calls for a return to compliance with international obligations to protect freedom of the media and freedom of expression have been ignored by the German side, we see such measures as the only way to enable our partners to engage in a constructive and meaningful dialogue about this unacceptable situation “, The statement goes on to say.
It’s not clear whether “retaliatory measures” against YouTube would include banning the site in Russia, but the government has already issued similar threats – including in 2020 when YouTube posted notices about videos uploaded by government sponsored media.
The editor-in-chief of RT, Margarita Simonyan, not only called for sanctions against YouTube, but also for a ban on German channels in Russia, such as the state media broadcaster DW.
“I am very much looking forward to my home country banning Deutsche Welle and other German media in Russia and the offices of the [German broadcasters] ARD and ZDF. I’m silent about sanctions against YouTube itself. Although we should do this out of self-respect, ”Simonyan said, according to an English translation by Russia’s. Telegram Meduza News agency.
While Alphabet-owned YouTube reportedly banned the two Russian accounts over Covid-19 misinformation, RT’s English-language channel highlighted YouTube rules calling into question the latest Election results in Germany on Tuesday.
Election misinformation is another issue that YouTube has struggled to control over the past few years, especially in the US after former President Donald Trump took power. Russian President Vladimir Putin is notorious wanted Trump to win in 2016 and RTs USA Channel was filled with pro-Trump propaganda to vote for him.
Whatever the exact reason for RT Deutschland’s YouTube ban‘Russia obviously does not believe that YouTube’s actions are just a matter of internal corporate policy, but a battlefield in the New Cold War.
“The aim of this aggression against the projects of the Russian media holding is obvious: to silence sources of information that go beyond the media agenda that German officials seem convenient,” said the Russian Foreign Ministry.
YouTube didn’t immediately respond to a request for comments early Wednesday, but Gizmodo will update this post if we hear anything.
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