What you need to know
- Russia has restricted access to Google News in the country allegedly for providing "unreliable information" about its invasion of Ukraine.
- Google has confirmed that its news aggregator service is no longer available in Russia.
- The latest ban highlights Russia's growing information war with Western internet platforms.
Russia is further tightening its restrictions on what type of information reaches its citizens amid the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine. The latest service to become unavailable in the country is Google News, the search giant's news aggregator.
According to news agency Interfax, Russia's telecommunications and information regulator, Roskomnadzor, has blocked access to Google News in the country for giving access to "materials containing unreliable information" about the military conflict in Ukraine.
"The mentioned U.S. 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," the regulator told Interfax.
Earlier this month, Roskomnadzor ordered Google to stop running ads about the Ukraine conflict on YouTube that it said were false.
Google did not immediately respond to Android Central's request for comment, but a company representative earlier confirmed to TechCrunch that Google News has become inaccessible to users in Russia.
“We’ve confirmed that some people are having difficulty accessing the Google News app and website in Russia and that this is not due to any technical issues on our end,” a Google representative was quoted as saying. “We’ve worked hard to keep information services like News accessible to people in Russia for as long as possible."
Russia's latest action marks an escalating information war between its government and the Western internet platforms. A few weeks ago, Russian state media were banned from the Google News app or the Google Play Store in Europe following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Previously, Google barred Russian state-sponsored ads from running on its platform worldwide.
Several other tech giants, including Meta and Twitter, have banned Russian state media from their platforms since the start of the Ukraine war. In return, the country blocked access to the social media giants' services, including Facebook and Instagram. Meta's WhatsApp, on the other hand, remains accessible to Russian users.
That said, it's likely that Google News won't be the last service to receive the Kremlin's ban hammer.
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Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.