Russia Bans Google News for “unreliable” info on war in Ukraine
Roskomnadzor, Russia’s telecommunications regulator, has banned Alphabet’s news aggregator service Google News and blocked access to the news.google.com domain for providing access to “unreliable information” on the ongoing war in Ukraine.
“Based on a request from the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office, Roskomnadzor has restricted access to the Internet service News.Google in the country,” the Russian Internet watchdog told Interfax.
“The mentioned U.S. Internet news resource provided access to numerous publications and materials containing unreliable, publicly significant information about the course of the special military operation in Ukraine.”
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This decision follows Russian President Vladimir Putin also signed into law new legislation making it illegal to spread “knowingly fake news” about the Russian army’s operations in Ukraine, introducing jail terms of up to 15 years.
Earlier this month, Roskomnadzor asked Google to stop ad campaigns spreading misinformation regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on YouTube videos.
In response, Google took action against disinformation campaigns regarding Russia’s invasion and blocked YouTube channels belonging to Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik in Europe at the request of the European Union.
Roskomnadzor protested YouTube’s decision, demanding the immediate removal of all access restrictions to official accounts of Russian media (including RT and Sputnik) across Europe.
Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook also blocked
On February 26, the telecoms regulator notified independent Russian media outlets (e.g., Ekho Moskvy, InoSMI, Mediazona, New Times, Dozhd, Svobodnaya Pressa, Krym. Realii, Novaya Gazeta, Journalist, and Lenizdatnot) not to spread false info about the shelling of Ukrainian cities, and to stop calling the “ongoing military operation” in Ukraine an attack or invasion.
While the decision to ban Facebook was motivated by Meta booting pro-Kremlin media outlets and news agencies (e.g., RIA Novosti, Sputnik, and Russia Today) of the platform, the Instagram block was triggered by Meta deciding to allow calls for violence in some countries on Facebook and Instagram against the Russian invaders.
Roskomnadzor also blocked access to multiple foreign news outlets, some designated as foreign agents, including Voice of America, BBC, DW, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, accusing them of spreading fake news regarding the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.