Update: Google has removed RT and Sputnik apps from the Play Store in Europe.
What you need to know
- A Google spokesperson confirmed to Bloomberg that Russian state media will no longer appear in the Google News app or on the Google Play Store in Europe.
- This move follows Google's ban on Russian state-sponsored ads from running on Google's ad platform worldwide.
- Several other tech giants have banned Russian state-owned media from its platforms since the invasion of Ukraine began.
If you're a Google News user, your chances of running across an article written by Russian state media has just been reduced to near-zero. That's thanks to Google having removed all known Russian state-sponsored media from its news platform.
Google confirmed the move in a statement issued to Walter Bloomberg (opens in new tab). Previously, media outlets like RT were barred from placing ads (opens in new tab) on Google's AdSense platform and now Google has moved to cut off these entities for the foreseeable future.
This comes as Google and other tech giants are facing increasing pressure to limit the amount of Russian state-owned media and pro-Russian-aggression voices on their platforms. Per Bloomberg (opens in new tab), sanctions from many countries could force Google and other tech giants to remove accounts that fall under the disinformation heading, specifically in reference to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Both European and U.S. sanctions include language that prevents the use of “goods, services or technology” to entities identified as operating out of either Russia, Ukraine’s separatist Donetsk and Luhansk regions, or a combination thereof. This would mean that companies like Meta and Google would need to restrict access to channels identified as heinous.
Elsewhere, Russian state media and other assets have been significantly restricted, including at the annual MWC conference where Russian pavilion was removed (opens in new tab). Some have been saying that big tech isn't doing enough, accusing tech companies of putting their bottom lines before people.
Update March 2, 2022 8:50am
A Google spokesperson told TechCrunch that the RT and Sputnik apps have been pulled from the Google Play Store in Europe. This comes just before an expected ban on the two organizations by the European Union. It's not clear at this time if Google will move to ban these organizations' apps in other countries, as well.
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