Seek and destroy strategy prevents narrative being questioned.
The tech giant, which is owned by Google, has been found to have been systematically deleting any videos that do not fit the conflict narrative. YouTube’s Chief Product Officer Neil Mohan speaking to The Guardian this week attempted to play down the censorship by saying “YouTube remains the largest video-sharing site up and running in Russia itself,” describing the platform as a provider of “uncensored” information going on to claim “YouTube is a place where Russian citizens can get uncensored information about the war, including from many of the same authoritative channels that we all have access to outside of the country.”
But while YouTube isn’t censored by the Russian government, content that is allowed on the platform, in relation to the invasion, is heavily limited by the platform itself. Despite their claims and misdirection, YouTube decides what can and can't be seen by viewers, even though it repeatedly claims to not get involved with censorship, it has increasingly deleted and blocked any content it doesn't agree with.
Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, YouTube has removed over 70,000 videos and 9,000 channels for violating its content guidelines, including content referring to the invasion as a “liberation mission.” It has also removed videos from youtubers questioning the authenticity of Ukrainian videos, whilst simultaneously denying it is operating any type of bias.
So far it has removed over 9,000 channels and 70,000 videos. Some of the channels that have been removed include those of the Russian Ministry of Defense and the channel run by pro-Kremlin reporter Vladimir Solovyov. However the bias is clearly evident despite what the company says. “We have a major violent events policy and that applies to things like denial of major violent events: everything from the Holocaust to Sandy Hook. And of course, what’s happening in Ukraine is a major violent event. And so we’ve used that policy to take unprecedented action,” YouTube’s chief product officer Neal Mohan told The Guardian this week.
Mohan went on to claim that the censorship was done to ensure that only accurate and reliable information was available. “The first and probably most paramount responsibility is making sure that people who are looking for information about this event can get accurate, high-quality, credible information on YouTube,” Mohan said. “The consumption of authoritative channels on our platform has grown significantly, of course in Ukraine, but also in countries surrounding Ukraine, Poland, and also within Russia itself.” Those channels being the likes of the BBC and CNN of course.