Russia continues to use platforms like YouTube to spread disinformation about the invasion of Ukraine

The YouTube app logo on a smartphone (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic) (DADO RUVIC/)

He kremin has been using Russian propaganda films to justify the war they launched against Urania and this type of content proliferates in Youtubedespite the platform’s ban on Russian state-funded media.

We heard that we started the war in Donbas, Ukraine, not”, says the Russian president to the camera, Vladimir Putin surrounded by the colors of the Russian flag. “It was unleashed by the West, which organized and supported the unconstitutional armed coup in Ukraine in 2014, and then encouraged and justified genocide against the people of Donbas,” he adds.

That video, in which Putin unscrupulously and blatantly delivers a disinformation-laden message about the origins of the war that he, in fact, started, appears at the beginning of a 30-minute documentary on the YouTube channel iEarlGrey, from according to a publication of an article in the media Newsweekwhich according to Russian state media, is run by freelance journalist Mike Jones.

Although the channel logo can be seen in the video, Jones is not its creator. The video was actually produced by the Russian propagandist outlet RTthat it depends on funding from the Kremlin and that it was initially published on its website.

On YouTube, the documentary accumulated 43,000 views in three months, but does not contain the mark RT nor any warning that the content is Russian propaganda.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the website on which RT uploads its audiovisual propaganda content, has published 50 videos loaded with disinformation about the war, according to Newsweek

Russian President Vladimir Putin (REUTERS)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (REUTERS) (SPUTNIK /)

This means that they produce on average one promotional video per week. These documentaries are available for free on the website of RT and, as he discovered the medium NewsGuardon YouTube they are also uploaded in both Russian and English, and some are even available in French and Spanish.

The month after Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukrainian territory, YouTube banned Russian state-funded media from its platform globally and proceeded to block the channels belonging to RT.

Despite this measure, NewsGuard found more than 250 videos about the war in Ukraine made by the channel RT uploaded to more than 100 channels on the YouTube platform, which at the time of the investigation had more than half a million combined views.

Approximately 200 of those videos produced by RT clearly used the logo of R.T.D.while the other 50 removed evidence connecting them to the Russian state slaughterhouse, something that NewsGuard presumes they did so with the intent to avoid detection by YouTube.

Egregious falsehoods about Ukraine are constantly repeated in those videos, including that Ukraine’s 2014 Maidan political revolution was a “Western-backed coup,” as previously mentioned in Putin’s video, as posted. Newsweek.

In addition, it is said in the videos that the Ukrainian authorities committed a “genocide” of Russian-speaking people in the Donbas; and that “Nazism” is rampant in Ukrainian politics and society. (These claims, and over 100 others, have been debunked by NewsGuard on his Russia-Ukraine disinformation tracker).

“Since the devastating war in Ukraine began, our teams have quickly restricted and removed harmful content, and our systems have connected people with high-quality information from authoritative sources. We removed more than 9,000 channels and more than 85,000 videos related to the war for violating our Community Guidelines. Additionally, we blocked YouTube channels associated with Russian state-funded news channels around the world, resulting in more than 800 channels and more than 4 million videos being blocked. Our teams continue to closely monitor the ongoing war and stand ready to take further action,” a YouTube spokesperson told NewsGuard.

The outlet found that the most viewed English-language videos of Russian propaganda produced by RT appeared on iEarlGrey, the channel run by Mike Jones, a former British gamer who lives in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Before the start of the war, the channel focused on producing content related to online games. But then Russian propaganda videos began to surface with titles like “Mother Claims ‘There Was No Airstrike,’” in which Jones repeated widely discredited claims by the Kremlin about the March 2022 airstrike on the Mariupol maternity ward.

Even though that video violates YouTube’s policy that prohibits content that “denies, minimizes, or trivializes violent events,” it stops at the NewsGuard made the complaint public, the video remained on the channel generating advertising revenue.

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