Other Companies Are Fighting Russian Disinformation…. But Where’s Apple?

Earlier today, I wrote that Twitter was taking action to stop disinformation from spreading from Russian media. After some looking around, I found that other social media platforms are doing the same thing in whole or in part.

Let’s start with Facebook:

Facebook’s parent company Meta said Monday it will limit access to Russian state-controlled media outlets RT and Sputnik across the European Union, a move that will likely heighten tensions between the world’s largest social network and the Russian government.

“We have received requests from a number of governments and the EU to take further steps in relation to Russian state-controlled media. Given the exceptional nature of the current situation, we will be restricting access to RT and Sputnik across the EU at this time,” Nick Clegg, who oversees global affairs at Meta and is the former UK deputy prime minister, said in a tweet.

Now let’s go to TikTok:

TikTok has joined Facebook in blocking access to two Russian state media outlets in the European Union. Sputnik and RT are no longer able to post to audiences within the EU, and their pages and content will no longer be accessible to users in the bloc, a TikTok spokesperson confirmed.

Next up is YouTube:

Google’s YouTube said Tuesday that it would block Kremlin-backed media outlets RT and Sputnik from Europe following similar bans by Facebook and TikTok.

“It’ll take time for our systems to fully ramp up. Our teams continue to monitor the situation around the clock to take swift action,” Google’s video streaming service said in a statement.

YouTube’s ban — following an announcement from the European Commission that it wanted to remove these Russian media outlets from the EU — would apply within the European Union and the U.K.

While this is not meant to fight disinformation, Google is disabling live traffic in Ukraine:

The company said it had taken the action of globally disabling the Google Maps traffic layer and live information on how busy places like stores and restaurants are in Ukraine for the safety of local communities in the country, after consulting with sources including regional authorities.

Now over to Netflix:

Netflix was due to fall under a series of new obligations in Russia on March 1 after it was added to a register of “audiovisual services”overseen by the country’s communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, last year. 

The obligations mean that Netflix would have had to stream 20 Russian federal television stations, including the likes of Channel One, NTV and a channel run by the Russian Orthodox Church, Spas. Channel One in particular has close links to the Kremlin.

“Given the current situation, we have no plans to add these channels to our service,” a Netflix spokesperson said on Monday evening.

Finally, Microsoft has announced that they are going to de-rank Russian media outlets on Bing so that they don’t show up nearly as often as well as pulling apps from the Windows Store that are associated with Russian media:

We are moving swiftly to take new steps to reduce the exposure of Russian state propaganda, as well to ensure our own platforms do not inadvertently fund these operations. In accordance with the EU’s recent decision, the Microsoft Start platform (including MSN.com) will not display any state-sponsored RT and Sputnik content. We are removing RT news apps from our Windows app store and further de-ranking these sites’ search results on Bing so that it will only return RT and Sputnik links when a user clearly intends to navigate to those pages. Finally, we are banning all advertisements from RT and Sputnik across our ad network and will not place any ads from our ad network on these sites.

Who’s missing from this list? Apple. One has to wonder why a company who preaches that it has such high ideals isn’t rushing to join this? As I type this, apps from RT and Sputnik which are two of the biggest mouthpieces for the Russians are still available on the App Store. Why isn’t Apple taking action? That’s a very interesting question that Apple will need to answer ASAP as they really stand out for not having taken action unlike all the companies above. And I should also say, it looks really bad on them.

2 Responses to “Other Companies Are Fighting Russian Disinformation…. But Where’s Apple?”

  1. […] today I said this in an article about various companies fighting Russian […]

  2. […] in some ways this kind of sort of matches things that companies like Google and Facebook have done. Not to mention Twitter. But in other ways they’ve gone a bit further. As in stopping sales […]

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