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Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Russian Propaganda

A number of posts have discussed Russian propaganda.

[W]hile RT has had trouble getting carried by cable providers, they’ve done a good job of penetrating what are known as “over the top” streaming services.

Sling, the streaming arm of Dish Network, carries RT and even has a special “news” package that provides True Patriots™ access to both RT and Newsmax for the low price of $6 per month. Meanwhile Roku offers RT America just up the dial from Steve Bannon’s War Room. It’s these sort of streaming deals that contribute to RT popping up all kinds of places you might not expect.

Back in 2017, I noticed that it was 1 of only 40 channels carried in my room at the lovely Washington, D.C. Westin. A Google image search revealed the story was the same at the Hartford Sheraton and the South Beach Group hotel chain in Miami. RT was on the screen at a Minneapolis airport bar over the weekend. Garry Kasparov tweeted about seeing it in a cab.

These types of services provide RT much greater reach than their spot in the quadruple digits on the satellite dial. Hotels, cabs, and transportation centers airing deranged spin about Putin’s prowess to captive audiences is providing a totally unnecessary and borderline traitorous assist to the Russian dictator.

Meanwhile, online the picture is even uglier. This morning, YouTube began blocking channels “connected to Russian state-backed media outlets RT and Sputnik” just days after they took the half-decade-overdue step of pausing the monetization of RT on their platform, but that came after the network had built a subscriber base of 4.6 million people, more than double that of the Washington Post, and more even than this publication’s humble channel. (Subscribe today!)

Sarah Fischer at Axios:
What we're watching: Crackdowns from private companies, including Big Tech platforms, may prove even more potent, given how much Russian state media has relied on social networks to spread disinformation.
  • Microsoft's Start platform, which includes, will not display any state-sponsored RT and Sputnik content, and it's removing the RT news apps from its Windows app store.
  • Twitter on Monday said it will start labeling all tweets that contain content from Russian state-affiliated media websites, and will reduce the visibility and amplification of any tweets that contain content from Russian state media.
  • Facebook's parent company, Meta, has restricted access to several accounts in Ukraine, including those belonging to some Russian state media, at the request of the Ukrainian government. Meta said it's also reviewing other government requests to restrict Russian state controlled media.
  • YouTube is “significantly limiting recommendations" to Russian state media channels, a spokesperson told Axios.
  • Netflix said it will defy a Russian law ordering it to add state propaganda channels to its service there.
Yes, and: Google, YouTube, Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook have all restricted or banned Russian state media organizations from selling ads.

What to watch: TV distributors in the U.S. are facing pressure to remove Russian state media from their platforms, though they largely haven't done so yet.
  • Roku is removing RT in Europe from the Roku Channel store.
  • Dish said in a statement "Our thoughts are with all the people of Ukraine, and particularly with our team members in the country. We are closely monitoring the situation."
  • DirecTV, which also carries the network, did not respond to request for comment.