YouTube removes over 9,000 channels and 70,000 videos related to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict

YouTube has removed more than 70,000 videos and 9,000 channels related to the Ukraine-Russia conflict because several of those videos violated the platform’s violent events policy, which prohibits creators from denying or to trivialize events such as the invasion of Ukraine.

The platform, popular in Russia, has blocked the channel of pro-Kremlin journalist Vladimir Solovyov and others since the conflict began in February.

In recent months, channels affiliated with the Russian Defense and Foreign Ministries were briefly banned from broadcasting films for calling the conflict a “liberation effort”.

YouTube product manager Neal Mohan told the Guardian: “We have a major violent events policy and that applies to things like denial of major violent events: everything from the Holocaust to Sandy Hook.”

“What is happening in Ukraine is a major violent event. And so we used this policy to take unprecedented action,” he added.

YouTube did not provide a breakdown of the removed videos and channels, but Mohan said many of them were stories from the Russian government or Russian actors acting on its behalf.

Additionally, Mohan also said that in Ukraine alone, YouTube news content about the conflict has received over 40 million views.

According to him, the platform’s first and most important responsibility is to ensure that people seeking information about the Ukraine-Russia conflict can find “accurate, high-quality and credible” information on YouTube.

The consumption of authoritative channels on our platform has increased significantly, not only in Ukraine, but also in neighboring countries, Poland and in Russia itself, Mohan added.

However, YouTube has about 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 from which Russian citizens can get 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 country.

“We remain an important platform for Russian citizens themselves as this crisis continues to evolve,” Mohan said.

In the midst of the war between Ukraine and Russia, opportunistic developers launched a suite of homegrown social networks to replace the services. Meanwhile, some Russian state media and government agencies have started uploading videos to RuTube, a YouTube alternative owned by state-owned Gazprom-Media.

According to data analytics firm Sensor Tower, RuTube was downloaded approximately 1.4 million times on the Russian App Store and Google Play within 40 days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, an increase of over 2,000% compared to the previous period.

According to Brand Analytics, VKontakte, a Facebook-like site that already dominated the Russian market, saw a significant increase in active users, with social networks like Telegram experiencing sudden growth.

Fiesta, an Instagram clone, ranked first in the Russian App Store at the end of March, and Rossgram, another similar app, is the newest entrant.

However, even an investigation had also revealed that Russian authorities were offering money to Russian influencers to switch to the platform before the war started.

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