YouTube has removed more than 70,000 videos and 9,000 channels related to the Ukraine-Russia conflict as several videos violated the platform’s violent events policy, which prevents creators from denying or downplaying events such as the invasion of Ukraine.
The platform, which is very popular in Russia, has taken down the channel of pro-Kremlin journalist Vladimir Solovyov and others since the conflict began in February.
In recent months, channels of Russia’s defense and foreign ministries have been briefly banned from broadcasting films for referring to the conflict as a “liberation effort.”
“We have a major violent events policy and that applies to things like major violent event denial: everything from the Holocaust to Sandy Hook,” YouTube chief product officer Neil Mohan told The Guardian.
“What is happening in Ukraine is a major violent event. And so we have used this policy to take unprecedented measures.”
YouTube did not provide a breakdown of the deleted videos and channels, but Mohan stated that many of them are accounts coming from the Russian government or Russian actors acting on its behalf.
In addition, Mohan also mentioned that in Ukraine alone, YouTube news content about the conflict received more than 40 million views.
According to him, the platform’s first and most important responsibility is to ensure that people seeking information on the conflict between Ukraine and Russia can find “accurate, high-quality and credible” information on YouTube.
Mohan added that the consumption of official channels on our platform has increased significantly, not only in Ukraine, but also in neighboring countries, Poland, and within Russia itself.
However, YouTube has an estimated 90 million users in Russia, despite the fact that advertising on the platform is no longer allowed in the country. It is still the main platform where Russian citizens can obtain uncensored information about the war.
With Russia banning Facebook and Instagram, YouTube is one of the few major social media platforms still operating in the non-Russian-owned country.
“We remain an important platform for Russian citizens themselves as this crisis continues to develop,” Mohan said.
In the midst of the Ukrainian-Russian war, opportunistic developers launched a group of locally created social networks to replace services. Meanwhile, some Russian state media and government agencies have begun uploading videos to RuTube, a YouTube alternative owned by the state-run Gazprom-Media.
According to data analytics firm Sensor Tower, RuTube was downloaded nearly 1.4 million times on Russia’s App Store and Google Play in the 40 days after Russia invaded Ukraine, an increase of more than 2,000% over the previous period.
According to brand analytics, VKontakte, a Facebook-like site that already dominates the Russian market, has seen a significant increase in active users, with social networks such as Telegram experiencing a surprising growth.
Fiesta, an Instagram clone, took the number one spot in the Russian app store at the end of March, and Rossgram, another similar app, was the latest entrant.
However, the investigation also revealed that the Russian authorities were offering money to Russian influencers to move onto the platform before the war began.
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