Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, US-based social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google have announced restrictions on several Russian-based media and channels on their platforms. This includes barring several Russian media from running ads as well as suspending their ability to earn revenue from their content.
In a statement released over the weekend, Meta says they are prohibiting ads from Russian state media and demonetising their accounts. They will continue to apply labels and independent fact-checking on content published by the Russian state media. The social media platform has also revealed that they have received an order from the Russian authorities to stop the independent fact-checking and the labelling, but they have refused the order.
In addition to the media restriction, Meta has introduced several features to keep Ukrainian users safe on the ground. This includes the ability to lock their Facebook profile so that non-Friends will not be able to download or share their profile photo or posts. They have also temporarily removed the ability to view and search friends list on Facebook to protect individuals from being targeted.
1/ We are now prohibiting Russian state media from running ads or monetizing on our platform anywhere in the world. We also continue to apply labels to additional Russian state media. These changes have already begun rolling out and will continue into the weekend.— Nathaniel Gleicher (@ngleicher) February 26, 2022
Meta is also pushing privacy and security reminders to all Instagram users in Ukraine and has quickly rolled out extra tools such as notifications for screenshots and messages for their end-to-end encrypted chats. Meta has also emphasised that WhatsApp calls and messages are encrypted and they recommend the use “View Once” and “Disappearing Mode” which will erase all chat history after 24 hours for added protection in case a user loses their phone. All users are also reminded to enable two-step verification to protect their accounts from hackers.
We’ve already noticed @Meta decisions on blocking Russian propagandists and media outlets. @nickclegg, thanks for your actions and this very first step in countering the bloody military attack against Ukraine. There is no place for war criminals in Metaverse. https://t.co/IbB0NmQD5A— Mykhailo Fedorov (@FedorovMykhailo) February 27, 2022
Mykhailo Fedorov, the Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine has thanked Meta for taking action to “block Russian propagandists and media outlets”. He said “there is no place for war criminals in (the) Metaverse”
Russia is currently partially limiting access to Meta platforms including Facebook as it accused them of censoring Russian media. The Russian state communications regulator has formally demanded Google to remove restrictions imposed on Russian media YouTube channels in Ukraine which include RBC, TV Zvezda and Sputnik.
Meanwhile, Google and its video platform YouTube will stop running ads on channels that are backed by Russian state media which includes RT (Russia Today). It was reported that Google is following the latest developments closely and besides demoneytisation, YouTube is also significantly limiting recommendations to these channels. In addition, they have also restricted access to RT and a number of Russian channels in Ukraine.
Our top priority is keeping people on Twitter safe.— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) February 25, 2022
We’re actively monitoring for risks associated with the conflict in Ukraine, including identifying and disrupting attempts to amplify false and misleading information.
Here are the steps we’ve taken:
Twitter has also taken action by temporarily pausing ads in both Ukraine and Russia to “ensure critical public safety information is elevated and ads don’t detract from it”. In addition, they are proactively reviewing Tweets to detect platform manipulation and to take enforcement action against synthetic and manipulated media to present a false and misleading depiction of what’s happening. They have also stopped recommending some Tweets on the timeline to reduce the spread of abusive content.
Twitter also said they are also monitoring vulnerable high-profile accounts including journalists, activists, government officials, and agency accounts to mitigate any attempts of account takeovers. Users in conflict zones or other high-risk areas are reminded to improve their account security and manage its visibility due to the potential risk of digital security threats.
Second, we will ban the Kremlin’s media machine in the EU.— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) February 27, 2022
The state-owned Russia Today and Sputnik, and their subsidiaries,
will no longer be able to spread their lies to justify Putin’s war.
We are developing tools to ban their toxic and harmful disinformation in Europe. pic.twitter.com/7RcPEn6E14
The recent move to block Russian media online is seen as an attempt to block any potential propaganda and misinformation from Moscow. The EU has also announced a ban on Russian state-backed media. According to the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, “Russia Today and Sputnik, and their subsidiaries, will no longer be able to spread their lies to justify Putin’s war and to sow division in our union. So we are developing tools to ban their toxic and harmful disinformation in Europe.”
The EU has announced a ban on all Russian-owned, Russian-registered, or Russian-controlled aircraft from entering their airspace and introduced a new package of sanctions aimed at hitting Russia’s most important sectors. This will include the ban of mineral fuels to tobacco, wood and timber, cement, iron and steel from Russia. The EU has also announced that it will block Russian banks from using the SWIFT system, all transactions of Russia’s central banks, and to freeze its assets, to prevent them from being used to finance Putin’s war.