With Russia Invading Ukraine last week, many global social media companies have been trying to find the right balance between looking after their businesses in Russia while ensuring that they don’t act as mouthpieces for Russian propaganda. The conflict in Ukraine is not only taking a massive humanitarian toll. It is also said to affect global businesses, especially the tech sector. According to reports, many observers and industry insiders believe that the war could prolong the chip shortage as both Russia and Ukraine export crucial materials used to produce microchips.
Social media companies often come under fire for not doing enough to stop fake news, propaganda, and misinformation on their platforms. Simultaneously, they also often get attacked for censorship, with people wondering whether corporate entities should be allowed to act as gatekeepers for what people may or may not post online. The debate continues to rage without any clear answer, which makes the response to the current conflict all the more challenging for social media companies, especially those based in the U.S. and other western countries.
Following the invasion of Ukraine, many social media companies are proactively limiting Russian state media and other Russian government agencies from spreading propaganda or monetizing their content. For example, Twitter this week announced plans to add labels to tweets containing links from Russian state-controlled media outlets. The labels will note the affiliation of the linked blogs or media channels to warn users about possible propaganda in the linked source. The micro-blogging platform also said it would reduce the visibility of Russian state-linked press on the platform so that it doesn’t act as an inadvertent mouthpiece for Vladimir Putin’s propaganda.
Today, we’re adding labels to Tweets that share links to Russian state-affiliated media websites and are taking steps to significantly reduce the circulation of this content on Twitter.
We’ll roll out these labels to other state-affiliated media outlets in the coming weeks. pic.twitter.com/57Dycmn8lx
— Yoel Roth (@yoyoel) February 28, 2022
Facebook, TikTok, YouTube Also Restricting Russian Propaganda
Facebook and TikTok have also announced that they would restrict access to content from the state-owned RT (Russia Today) and Sputnik news across the European Union. In a tweet on Monday, Facebook’s president for global affairs, Nick Clegg, said that the decision came after “requests from a number of Governments and the EU to take further steps in relation to Russian state-controlled media.” The social media company has also prohibited Russian state media from running ads or monetizing their content on its platform anywhere in the world. As for TikTok, the company told The Wall Street Journal that it had restricted Russian state actors from accessing their accounts on its platform following communications with EU officials.
YouTube has also taken steps against Russian state entities by temporarily pausing the ability of Russian state media channels to monetize on the platform. In addition, the company is also restricting the number of videos from these channels in recommendations to prevent the spread of misinformation and propaganda. According to CNN, the company said that the decision was taken after Ukraine’s Minister of Culture and Information Policy Alexander Tkachenko requested YouTube to ban Russian propaganda channels on the platform.
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