Russian Claims YouTube "Misinformation" to Blame for Protests

Russia has demanded that Google remove what it claims are misleading ads on the war in Ukraine which are fomenting popular protests in the country.

In a statement, the country’s telecoms regulator Roskomnadzor doubled down on the narrative that its military action is simply a “special operation” and not an act of invasion.

“Roskomnadzor has sent a letter to Google LLC (responsible for Google’s advertising activities on the territory of Russia) demanding that it immediately stop disseminating on the territory of Russia false information of a political nature on the special operation of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in Ukraine,” it said, according to local news agency Interfax.

“Such advertising messages are demonstrated to Russian users of the YouTube video hosting platform and contain misinformation aimed at forming a distorted idea in the Russian Internet audience of the events that are taking place and creating protest sentiments.”

The regulator accused Google of conducting an “infowar” and said it was “unacceptable.”

Thousands of anti-war protesters have taken to the streets in Russian cities following the invasion of Ukraine, braving potentially fierce reprisals from security forces. With the press and media being highly controlled by Russian authorities, one of the few ways Russians hear alternative narratives is via YouTube.

Google has taken many steps to mitigate the spread of fake narratives on its site. These include blocking YouTube channels connected to Russian state media RT and Sputnik, pausing monetization for these entities, limiting recommendations for Russian state media and removing channels engaged in “coordinated deceptive practices.”

In related news, the Ukrainian authorities have claimed that Russian hackers defaced local government websites in the country to spread false narratives that Kyiv had capitulated and signed a peace treaty with Russia.

Ukraine’s State Service of Special Communication and Information Protection posted the warning on Twitter, claiming the campaign had impacted several regional authorities and local governments.

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