Youtube, Facebook, TikTok but also Microsoft have just suspended Russian media accounts in Europe RT (Russia Today) and sputnikthe latter being suspected of relaying the propaganda of the Kremlin even as Ukraine fights not to be invaded. The blocking decision was taken following requests from several member countries of the European Union and pressure from the European Commission. Thus the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, declared yesterday that Europe was on the verge of “ban the Kremlin media machine. State media RT and Sputnik, along with their affiliates, will no longer be able to broadcast their lies to justify Putin’s war and to sow division in our union”.
Microsoft has confirmed that the information relayed by the two Russian media is no longer displayed on the MSN.com information portal and, even more radically, that the applications of these same media have been removed from the Windows App Store. As for the Bing search engine, it will to some extent filter the pages of RT and Sputnik. For its part, Twitter still allows links to Sputnik and RT, but tweets sharing these links are now preceded by a mention specifying that the two media belong to the Russian state. Twitter’s refusal to comply with EU demands aroused the ire of Cédric O, the Secretary of State in charge of the digital transition: “Twitter hasn’t done anything, or almost nothing yet. I want to say it here very formally, putting little messages stating ‘this is a Russian government sponsored message’, when the Russian government is increasing its nuclear threat, it’s ridiculous and indecent”.
More surprisingly, TikTok complied without complaining about European requests for blocking, while the Chinese firm remains closely watched by Beijing, Russia’s political and commercial partner. Note, however, that its suspensions only concern countries of the European Union: it is still possible to access RT and Sputnik via a country outside the EU. Finally, we note that RT France reacted quickly by announcing the opening of legal proceedings.