Tech

Facebook, YouTube and TikTok block Russian media RT and Sputnik in Europe

Facebook, YouTube and TikTok have just banned Russian media RT and Sputnik across Europe. Accusing the two media of propaganda and lies, the European Commission demanded the exclusion of the communication tools used by the press agency and the television channel.

Following the invasion of Ukraine, sanctions rain down on Russia. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen demanded the exclusion of Russian media RT (formerly Russia Today) and sputnik from Europe. “State media Russia Today [RT] and Sputnik, along with their affiliates, will no longer be able to spread their lies to justify Putin’s war and to sow division in our union,” said Ursula von der Leyen, accusing the two outlets of propaganda.

In concrete terms, the Commission is calling for the removal of media YouTube channels, Twitter accounts, Facebook accounts, iOS and Android applications on the Play Store and the App Store, as well as the blocking of websites by access providers Internet.

Related: Ukraine asks Apple to block App Store in Russia

Facebook, TikTok and YouTube attack Russian-owned media

A few hours before the measures came into force, Facebook deleted media pages Russian state officials Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik. Instagram, a subsidiary of Facebook, quickly did the same. Nick Clegg, head of public affairs at Facebook, says he wants to cooperate with governments and the European Union “due to the exceptional nature of the situation”.

Meta’s social network was quickly imitated by TikTok, the application owned by the Chinese group Bytedance. The videos published by the two Russian media were inaccessible on February 28. Sequences can however still be viewed by Internet users located outside of Europeor equipped with a VPN.

On March 1, 2022, YouTube also complied with European requirements. “We are blocking RT and Sputnik YouTube channels across Europe with immediate effect. Our systems take some time to be fully operational”, specifies Facebook to BFM TV. RT France had 1.15 million subscribers, against 220,000 subscribers for Sputnik France.

Despite the impatience displayed by several European governments, including France, the other players concerned, such as Twitter and ISPs, have not yet excluded the two Russian media. To circumvent the sanctions, RT France relays its readers to its Telegram group. The Moscow-owned news agency believes the measure violates French law and freedom of expression.

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