Following Pressure from Civil Rights Advocates, YouTube Will End Ties with Russia-Funded and Directed Media Outlets RT and Sputnik
For Immediate Release: March 11, 2022
Contact: Christina DiPasquale, 202.716.1953, firstname.lastname@example.org
Today, YouTube announced that it is blocking access to YouTube channels associated with Russian state-funded media globally–effective immediately. The platform’s policy change also appears to impact imprint channels managed by Russian state-funded media like “Redfish” and “SoapBox.” This news comes just one day following a Change the Terms letter, demanding this action of the company, sent on behalf of the Change the Terms Coalition and led by the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism. The letter called upon YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki to remove Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik “in the U.S. and across the globe in all languages, as they have in the European Union” or “continue to be complicit in this war by allowing for the spread of dangerous information.”
In the letter, Change the Terms identified RT and Sputnik as “two of the major avenues through which the Putin regime spreads this disinformation” to justify Russia’s actions in Ukraine and distribute content about white supremacist groups, leading to real world harm and contributing to threats against democracies everywhere.
“YouTube’s removal of Russian-directed media outlets is a good step we hoped would have happened sooner,” said Heidi Beirich, co-chair of Change the Terms and co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism. “This disinformation and propaganda is dangerous and shouldn’t be allowed anywhere or in any language. We’ll be watching to make sure that YouTube does as promised and blocks these channels for good.”
“Today’s action by YouTube was necessary to stop the continued spread of the disinformation that has led to mass violence against Ukrainians and encouraged attacks on democracy,” said Jessica J. González, co-founder of Change the Terms and co-CEO of Free Press. “Given how Russian state-funded media has been used to legitimize and popularize heinous war crimes, it was absolutely appropriate for YouTube to issue a global ban. Change the Terms calls on other social media firms to take similar action, and will continue our years-long battle to push all major social media platforms to adopt our coalition’s core recommendations to further reduce hate, lies and harm online in all languages.”
The Change the Terms coalition’s core recommendations to reduce online hate, including enforcement and monitoring provisions, can be found at: https://www.changetheterms.org/terms.
Change the Terms is a coalition calling on technology companies to institute and enforce service agreement prohibitions on hateful activities to protect public safety and respect diverse voices. The coalition includes more than 50 civil rights, human rights, technology policy and consumer protection organizations dedicated to encouraging internet companies, social media sites, payment processors and chat services to commit to fair, effective and transparent rules and practices for content moderation.