Analysis: YouTube is the lifeblood of the Russian opposition. It also frustrates them. 2022-04-28 15:21:18


Unlike some Other platforms, YouTube It is not yet blocked by the Russian government, and it is also available to Russians who connect to the Internet through a virtual private network, or VPN connections.

She said the Pevchikh Channel and her colleagues founded to cover the war in Ukraine have seen a rapid growth of Russians wanting to know more.

When I alluded to this dichotomy – that in the US, YouTube is being accused of just as much Spreading false information – she said, is one of the few ways her organization and others can get around the state-run propaganda machine that dominates traditional media.

“YouTube is mostly the source for non-fake news or actual real news,” Befshikh said.

This does not mean that Bevsheikh and Navalny, who are in a Russian penal colony, are happy with YouTube and its parent company, Google.

Navalny wrote recently 31-Tweet Topic He posted on Twitter that it was Google’s decision to stop selling ads in Russia that was hurting the opposition movement’s ability to reach additional eyeballs.

Here are excerpts from the Twitter thread translated from Russian by Google:

  • “19/31 Google and Meta stopped selling ads in Russia. This seriously complicated the work of the opposition. Our organization has good chances, only 3 of our YouTube channels have 6.5, 2.7 and 1.1 million subscribers, but this is not enough for a national campaign “.
  • “20/31 After all, we need to incite not supporters, but opponents and skeptics. And when we were able to deliver well-targeted advertising, it worked. We fought and won Putin’s propaganda.”
  • “24/31 Even if this advertisement is purchased at the full commercial price, its cost is exorbitant compared to the cost of war.”
  • “25/31 One shot of a javelin costs $230,000. For the same amount, we will get 200 million views of ads of different formats and provide at least 300,000 clicks or at least 8 million views of a video with the truth of what is happening in Ukraine.”

No comment. Neither Google nor YouTube directly responded to Navalny’s request to return the ads.

But the request may not be as simple as Navalny makes it seem. Google also has a policy that blocks ads that take advantage of sensitive events, such as the war in Ukraine.

What does YouTube do? A YouTube spokesperson directed me to the decision in March to pause YouTube ads in Russia.

At the same time, YouTube announced that it will block content from Russian state media such as RT and Sputnik throughout Europe and the rest of the world. The world, including Russia. YouTube also says its systems direct people on the platform to more reliable news sources. Read the Twitter thread on YouTube.

There is a difference between allowing monetization, as Navalny wants, and enabling content access.

Access is a multi-directional street. Russia has block facebook and Twitter and restricted access to Google News, although many Russians find their way around these restrictions through VPN connections.
Reports on threats against technical executives. Washington Post mentioned in March That Russia’s executives of Apple and Google were threatened in September by Russian agents, after which the companies removed an app intended to help Russians submit protest votes against Putin during legislative elections.
And two of the largest Internet service providers in the world – Lumen and Cogent Communications Technologieswhich provides an important Internet infrastructure for Russia They announced their plans in March To sever ties with the state, under the pretext of fear of cyber-attacks against the West issued from Russia. But the end result is also the difficulty of ordinary Russians having access to the Internet.

Struggling to stay in touch. Natalia Krapiva is the technical legal advisor for Access Now, a group that works for digital rights worldwide. She tells me her group has filed complaints with independent Russian media, NGOs, activists and human rights organizations all trying to figure out how to stay online and connected.

Separation of independent votes. Companies such as Slack, communications platform, Mailchimp Inc., newsletter and website, reported pulling out of Russia thus Separation of independent human rights and media organizations.

A Slack spokesperson declined to comment for this story. The company owns Previously referred to the International Penalties against Russia as a reason to leave.

Mailchimp will keep some Russia accounts. A Mailchimp spokesperson said that while the organization is adhering to its previous decision to suspend all accounts in Russia, it is now making exceptions.

The company said in a The statement, which adds that Mailchimp now has “a process for evaluating and returning specific accounts, including independent news organizations, civil rights, and similar groups.”

It will not provide details about which or how many accounts have been reinstated.

Bigger concerns about losing access. One group that uses Slack and has been cut off from Mailchimp is OVD-Info, an independent human rights group which sought to use technology to document Russia’s arrests of protesters after the outbreak of war in Ukraine. CNN has repeatedly linked her work.

Its founder, Daniel Beilinson, tells me his real concern is that Russia is losing access to the Internet and the outside world.

“It is a flow of information between Russia and the world,” he said. “It’s really important for Russians who want independent information, but also for other countries who want to understand what’s happening inside Russia.”

An exception to the penalties. In early April, the US Treasury, after lobbying from groups such as Access Now, split a file exemption from US sanctions For companies that provide Internet and telecommunications within Russia.

“Putin’s goal is to isolate people, leave them in confrontation with propaganda, cut off all alternative information and suppress all independent voices,” Krabiva said. And we’re helping him by cutting off internet services.”

“Splinternet” or “Digital Iron Curtain”. Repressive governments love the idea of ​​easily restricting internet access. Iran, which has moved to centralize its control over the internet as it has dealt with years of sanctions, was able to Press the lock key to cut off its residents and stifle protests in 2019.
The United States and more than 55 other countries are committed to the democratic governance of the Internet
Russia and China, the largest authoritarian powers, have moved to exert more control over the internet, a process that could lead to a less open internet. Some people refer to this bleak future as “splinternet. “
CNN’s Rishi Iyengar wrote about Russia’s efforts to isolate the country from the open internet as “digital iron curtain“The United States government, in a throwback to the Cold War, is working hard for it Find ways to overcome it.
Iyengar has also written about how Russia works Lacks technical knowledge to isolate itself completely from Western technology.
Desire for independent information. CNN’s Brian Fong wrote about How do Russians find ways? About Putin’s suppression of information.
CEO of US-based web security company Cloudflare, Matthew Prince, Documented in an April blog post That while the rest of the world is still interested in downloading games and social media apps, the Russians have been downloading VPN tools for private and secure internet access to get around government bans.

Cloudflare also charted an increase in traffic from Russia to US, French and British news outlets, although it didn’t specify which ones.

Internet neutrality. The US-based organization, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is one of several organizations that help facilitate the backbone of the Internet, and has rejected Ukraine’s calls to cut Russia’s access to the global Internet.

“As part of our mission, we maintain neutrality and work to support the global Internet,” wrote Göran Marby, CEO of ICANN. In a letter in March Reply to officials in Ukraine. Read more about ICANN.

Cloudflare has also rejected calls to get out of Russia.

“Our conclusion, in consultation with (government and civil society) experts, is that Russia needs more Internet access, not less,” Prince wrote in a blog post in March.