Google News banned in Russia for ‘unreliable’ content

24 Mar 2022

Image: © Aleksei/Stock.adobe.com

Meanwhile, Google has stopped all ads alongside any content that dismisses or glorifies Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Google and Russia are at loggerheads again after the tech giant’s news service was banned by the Russian communications regulator for “unreliable” information on the invasion of Ukraine.

In a statement yesterday (23 March), Google confirmed that users in Russia were finding it difficult to access the Google News app and website and that it was not linked to any technical issue on the company’s end.

Future Human

The regulator, Roskomnadzor, has reportedly acted on the request of Russia’s prosecutor general, which found content aggregated by Google News to be in conflict with what the Russian state deems to be accurate information about its invasion of Ukraine.

“The mentioned US internet news resource provided access to numerous publications and materials containing unreliable, publicly significant information about the course of the special military operation in Ukraine,” news agency Interfax quoted the regulator as saying.

The decision follows a new law in Russia that makes it illegal to spread news or report events that discredit the Russian army and its activities in Ukraine.

Russian tech giant Yandex provides similar services to Google, with a search engine and news aggregator. Earlier this month, the former head of news at the company accused it of not informing users about the conflict and being “a key element in hiding information about the war”.

Google ads

Google has meanwhile doubled down on its advertising restrictions, saying yesterday that it will not allow its ads to run alongside any content that dismisses, undermines or glorifies the invasion of Ukraine and the plight of its people.

In an email statement seen by Reuters, Google said ads would not run alongside, for example, “claims that imply victims are responsible for their own tragedy or similar instances of victim blaming” and claims that “Ukraine is committing genocide or deliberately attacking its own citizens”. The move also includes any ads capitalising on sensitive events relating to the invasion.

Google has already completely halted all online ads in Russia. According to the Wall Street Journal, Roskomnadzor had earlier this month ordered Google to stop showing ads that contained what it described as inaccurate information about the conflict.

The tech giant banned Russian state-sponsored news app RT from its Play store in Ukraine to help curb the spread of misinformation around the invasion, before going on to block apps related to RT and Sputnik from its Play store in Europe.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic

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