Russian State-Backed Media Being Blocked and Investigated

Photo credit: Reuters

Social media companies are restricting access to Russian state-backed media, as UK Ofcom launches investigation into Russian news channels, amid mass concerns about disinformation. 

Facebook parent company Meta restricted access to both RT, formerly Russia Today, and Sputnik news. YouTube also announced that it will be abating access to channels linked to Russian-state media across Europe immediately. 

Access to the sites will be restricted across the European Union following requests from governments as well as the EU to take further steps in dealing with Russian state-controlled media. 

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Sunday that the EU would ban RT and Sputnik. The proposed ban comes as information and disinformation wars are escalating. 

On Monday, leaders of the Baltic countries and Poland requested Google and Facebook to limit social media accounts and web streaming channels for outlets backed by the Russian government.

A similar request was made to the French representatives of tech companies by the French Digital Affairs Minister Cedric O, including to Facebook, Google, TikTok, and Microsoft. 

In the United Kingdom, Ofcom has launched an “unprecedented” 15 investigations into programs on Russian news channel RT for potential rule breaches. There is a concern with 15 different programs, a huge number for any one day and on one broadcaster.

The investigations are looking into 15 editions of the hourly News program for its coverage of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. The programs under investigation began Saturday, February 27 and lasted for the next 48 hours. 

Ofcom has lately come under building pressure to look at revoking RT’s license. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said over the weekend that he has the ability to ban RT if it is damaging the truth. 

In Russia, the Kremlin is intensifying its crackdown on foreign platforms as well as local media. BBC has risked being banned in Russia if RT is shut down in the UK. 

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