YouTube — And YouTube Music — Is Now at Risk of Being Banned In Russia

YouTube banned RussiaYouTube banned Russia Photo Credit: Eyestetix Studio

YouTube is at risk of being banned in Russia as tensions between US companies and Russia rise.

Google shuttered its advertising business in Russia, but its popular video social network YouTube is still available. YouTube recently banned a channel from Russia’s Ministry of Defense, which has led to tension with the Kremlin. YouTube stopped Russia’s military from using the platform after it called the invasion of Ukraine a ‘liberation mission’ in two videos.

“Our policies prohibit content denying, minimizing, or trivializing well-documented violent events, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” YouTube said in an emailed statement. Google’s office in Russia continues to operate, but its staff has been moved in the last few weeks. A Google spokesperson declined to comment on its office in Russia.

Since the invasion of Ukraine started, independent press inside of Russia is limited. Russia has banned Facebook and Instagram, both services operated by Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta Platforms Inc. Putin’s government labeled the American social media companies ‘extremist organizations,’ which makes it criminal to operate them in Russia. Twitter has not been outright labeled extremist in Russia, but its performance has been throttled.

Google and YouTube appear to remain intact in Russia for now. Despite the risk of being banned, YouTube remains a popular destination for Russians who want to watch videos online. Google also outranks the local Russian search provider, Yandex NV.

YouTube said on March 11 that it has removed more than 1,000 channels related to the invasion of Ukraine and pro-Russia content. Last Friday, Russia’s media regulator Roskomnadzor accused YouTube of running commercials calling for the sabotage of railways in Russia and Belarus. The agency said the ads “clearly demonstrates the anti-Russian position of Google, and the company’s behavior was of a ‘terrorist nature.’”

According to Russian state-backed news agency RIA Novosti, YouTube could be banned in Russia this week. A Google bulletin to staff in Russia obtained by Bloomberg News says the company is “working around the clock to provide specialist safety and security.” Russian YouTube creators no longer receive advertising revenues from their videos – likely due to payment processors like Visa and Mastercard pulling out of Russia.

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