Google suspends ads in Russia

Google said Thursday evening it had suspended all ads in Russia after the country’s internet regulator demanded that the company stop showing what it believed to be ads with false information about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Google said it was taking the rare step of suspending its advertising activities in the country, including search, YouTube and display marketing. The move came a few days after the company stopped advertising content produced by Russian state media. Google said it had already blocked ads related to the conflict because it didn’t want people to take advantage of the crisis for financial gain.

“In light of the extraordinary circumstances, we are suspending Google ads in Russia. The situation is evolving rapidly and we will continue to share updates as needed,” the company said in a written statement.

Earlier on Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor had demanded that Google stop showing online video ads featuring what it called false political information about Ukraine. It accused YouTube, a division of Google, of conducting advertising campaigns to misinform Russians about current events.

Google has taken a cautious stance on the Russian government throughout the crisis, as it employs more than 100 people in the country. In the past, the Russian government has threatened to prosecute individual employees of companies who break the country’s rules.

Russia’s demands on Google are the latest example of how the internet platforms of the world’s largest tech companies are becoming battlegrounds for how information is shared during the conflict.

In addition to suspending ads in Russia, Google banned RT, Sputnik and other Russian state-sponsored media from YouTube in Europe. It also said it would no longer allow content from Russian state media to appear on Google News.

At the request of the Ukrainian government, Google said it would also restrict access to RT and other Russian YouTube channels in Ukraine.

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