Google revenue

Google blocks RT and other Russian channels from generating ad revenue

Alphabet Inc.’s Google on Saturday banned Russian state media RT and other channels from receiving money for ads on their websites, apps and YouTube videos, following a move by Facebook after the invasion of Ukraine.

Citing “extraordinary circumstances”, Google’s YouTube unit said it was “interrupting a number of channels’ ability to monetize on YouTube”. These included several Russian channels affiliated with recent sanctions, such as those of the European Union.

Ad placement is largely controlled by YouTube.

Google later added that it also prohibits Russian state-funded media from using its advertising technology to generate revenue on their own websites and apps.

Additionally, Russian media will not be able to buy ads through Google Tools or place ads on Google services such as search and Gmail, spokesman Michael Aciman said.

On Wednesday, the European Union unveiled sanctions against individuals such as Margarita Simonyan, whom it called RT’s editor and a “central figure” in Russian propaganda.

Videos from affected channels will also appear less often in recommendations, YouTube spokesperson Farshad Shadloo said. He added that RT and several other channels would no longer be accessible in Ukraine due to a request from the Ukrainian government.

Ukraine’s Digital Transformation Minister Mykhailo Fedorov tweeted earlier on Saturday that he had contacted YouTube “to block Russian propaganda channels – such as Russia 24, TASS, RIA Novosti”.

RT and Simonyan did not respond to requests for comment. YouTube declined to name any other channels it had restricted.

For years, lawmakers and some users have called on YouTube, which is owned by Alphabet Inc.’s Google, to take stronger action against channels linked to the Russian government, fearing they are spreading misinformation and should take advantage of it.

Russia received around $7 million to $32 million over the two-year period ending in December 2018 from ads on 26 YouTube channels it supported, digital researcher Omelas told Reuters at the time.

YouTube has previously said it does not treat state-funded media channels that comply with its rules any differently than other channels when it comes to ad revenue sharing.

Meta Platforms Inc, owner of Facebook Inc., on Friday banned Russian state media from serving ads or generating revenue from ads on its services anywhere in the world.