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Google blocks RT and other Russian channels from earning ad dollars

Google blocks RT and other Russian channels from earning ad dollars

The Google LLC logo appears at the Google Store Chelsea in Manhattan, New York City, US, November 17, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

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Feb 26 (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google on Saturday blocked Russia’s state-owned media outlet and other channels from receiving money for ads on its websites, apps and YouTube videos, similar to a move Facebook took after the invasion of Ukraine.

Citing “exceptional circumstances,” Google’s YouTube unit said it was “temporarily halting the monetization ability of a number of channels on YouTube.” These channels included several Russian channels linked to recent sanctions, such as those imposed by the European Union.

Ad placement is largely controlled by YouTube.

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Google later added that it is also preventing state-funded Russian media from using its advertising technology to generate revenue on its sites and apps.

In addition, Russian media will not be able to buy ads through Google tools or place ads on Google services such as search and Gmail, spokesman Michael Aciman said.

“We are actively monitoring new developments and will take further steps if necessary,” Aciman said.

On Wednesday, the European Union revealed sanctions against individuals such as Margarita Simonyan, whom he described as RT’s editor-in-chief and “the central figure” in Russian propaganda.

YouTube spokesperson Farshad Shadlow said videos from affected media will also appear in recommendations less often. He added that RT and many other channels will not be available in Ukraine following the request of the Ukrainian government.

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On Saturday, Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov said on Twitter that he had contacted YouTube “to block Russian propaganda channels – such as Russia 24, TASS and RIA Novosti.”

RT and Simonyan did not respond to requests for comment. YouTube declined to identify the other restricted channels.

For years, lawmakers and some users have urged Google to take more action on channels linked to the Russian government, fearing that they are spreading misinformation and should not take advantage of it.

Digital researcher Omelas told Reuters at the time that Russia received an estimated $7 million to $32 million over the two years to December 2018 from ads across the 26 YouTube channels it supports.

YouTube previously said it does not treat state-funded media channels that comply with its rules differently than others when it comes to ad revenue sharing.

On Friday, Facebook owner Meta Platforms Inc. announced (FB.O) Russian state media are banned from displaying ads or earning revenue from advertising on their services. Read more

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Reporting by Dave Parrish in Oakland, CA; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Clarence Fernandez

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.