Russian regulators accused Google and YouTube of ‘terrorist’ activity on Friday, the first step toward a possible ban on access. It recently filed a criminal complaint against Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, accusing the company of allowing posts that ‘called for the murder’ of Russians. Roskomnadzor, the Russian media regulator, noted that the platform contained ads calling for the suspension of railway networks in Belarus and Russia, which demonstrated the tech giant’s anti-Russian position.
As quoted by the Interfax news agency, Roskomnadzor called the YouTube administration’s activities terroristic and injurious to Russian citizens. Roskomnadzor categorically opposes such advertising campaigns and urges Google to stop broadcasting anti-Russia videos as soon as possible. This is the latest salvo in a row between Moscow and foreign tech companies over Ukraine.
As a result of its attempts to block Russian state-funded media globally, YouTube is under heavy pressure from Russia’s communications regulator and politicians. Russia has already blocked access to other global tech giants such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well as several independent media outlets. Russian tech entrepreneurs are launching a picture-sharing application Rossgram on the domestic market to replace Instagram.
The situation concerning press freedom and freedom of expression in Russia has worsened in recent weeks because of the operation in Ukraine, which began on February 24. Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday wrote a harsh criticism of foreign social media firms, naming both Meta and YouTube, but he implied that the door for their return to the Russian market would be left open.
According to the deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council, Medvedev, who served as president from 2008 to 2012 and is currently deputy secretary of the Russian Security Council, ‘the ‘guardians’ of free speech have allowed users of their social media to wish death upon the Russian military’.
Russia has the technology and experience to develop its own social media, saying the ‘one-way game’ of Western firms controlling information flows cannot continue. ‘In order to return, they must demonstrate their independence and behave in a responsible manner towards Russia and its citizens’ he wrote.