Russia has blocked Google News, accusing it of promoting “inauthentic information” about the invasion of Ukraine. The ban came just hours after Google announced it would not allow users around the world to monetize content that “exploits, rejects or condones” war.
Google’s new policy applies to any website, app, or YouTube channel that earns revenue from search engine-driven advertising. It has long had a policy that prohibits ads from appearing alongside any content that “incites violence” and says the new policy clarifies and expands those rules.
“We can confirm that we are taking additional steps to clarify, and in some cases expand, our monetization guidelines with respect to the war in Ukraine,” a Google spokesperson said.
The company had already taken action against Russian state-funded media in late February and suspended all advertising for Russian users earlier that month. The latest ban could cut funding to Western media outlets that support Russia, even if they have no clear financial ties to the state itself.
Hours after Google’s new policy, Russian internet regulator Roskomnadzor announced its own ban, blocking Google News in its entirety from internet users. “Based on a request from the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office, Roskomnadzor has restricted access to the news.google internet service in the country,” the body said. in a report. “The mentioned American Internet information resource provided access to numerous publications and documents containing unreliable information of public importance on the conduct of the special military operation in Ukraine.”
Roskomnadzor has steadily taken action against US internet giants as the war in Ukraine progresses. A week after Russia’s first invasion, it blocked Facebook and Twitter in apparent retaliation for the two companies removing Russian state media, including RT and Sputnik, from their platforms. The official explanation listed 26 cases of “discrimination” against Russian media by Facebook since October 2020.
Initially, the ban focused only on Facebook itself, which has low penetration in Russia, sparing popular apps Instagram and WhatsApp from a ban. But on March 11, these were added to the blacklist, following a change in Facebook policy allowing Ukrainian users to make violent threats against Russian soldiers. “These are temporary measures designed to preserve the voice and expression of those facing the invasion,” Facebook said at the time.