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The Russian government is "demanding" YouTube reverse its decisionImage: R. Goldmann/picture alliance
PoliticsGermany

Russia threatens to block YouTube

September 29, 2021

The Russian Foreign Ministry has threatened to "retaliate" after YouTube deleted Russia Today's German-language channels. YouTube said the Moscow-backed broadcaster had violated its COVID misinformation policy.

https://p.dw.com/p/411Yv

Russia on Wednesday threatened to block Alphabet Inc.'s YouTube.

The development comes just a day after YouTube deleted state-backed broadcaster Russia Today's German-language channels.

YouTube said RT had violated its COVID misinformation policy, but the move has not been well received at the Kremlin.

Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor said it wanted YouTube to reverse its decision "as soon as possible."

In a letter to Google, which owns YouTube, Roskomnadzor said it "demanded that all restrictions be lifted."

Russian Foreign Ministry: 'Unprecedented information aggression'

Earlier on Wednesday, Russia's Foreign Ministry described the removal of RT from YouTube as "unprecedented information aggression" in a statement.

The ministry is now considering "a proposal to develop and take retaliatory measures against the YouTube hosting service and the German media."

Meanwhile, the German government responded to Moscow's threats, saying it had "nothing to do" with YouTube's decision.

"Anyone calling for such retaliation does not show a good relationship with freedom of the press," Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters, adding that the YouTube action "was not a state measure."

Video: Statement Steffen Seibert

What is YouTube's COVID misinformation policy?

YouTube deleted RT's German-language channels on Tuesday, saying it had violated its COVID misinformation policy.

"YouTube has always had clear community guidelines that outline what is allowed on the platform," a YouTube spokesperson told DW. 

The video-sharing portal says that it "doesn't allow content about COVID-19 that poses a serious risk of egregious harm."

Additionally, YouTube says that it does not permit content that spreads medical misinformation that "contradicts local health authorities' or the World Health Organization’s (WHO) medical information about COVID-19."

Russia Today 'tried to circumvent' the ban

Initially, RT's German channel was issued a strike for uploading content that breached YouTube's COVID misinformation policy, resulting in a week-long posting ban.

Russia Today then used a second channel, "Der Fehlende Part," — which translates to "the missing part" in German — to evade the suspension. 

RT DE [the name for RT in Germany] "tried to circumvent the enforcement by using another channel, and as a result, both channels were terminated for breaking YouTube Terms of Service," the YouTube spokesperson said.

YouTube added that it is against its terms of service to "use another channel in an attempt to circumvent the suspension of one channel by activity on another."

jsi/rc (Reuters, AFP)

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