Free Minds & Free Markets

Google Obeys Russia's Demand to Remove Putin Critic's YouTube Ads

An aide for the jailed dissident calls Google's actions "political censorship."

Kremlin Pool/ZUMA Press/NewscomKremlin Pool/ZUMA Press/NewscomGoogle complied last week with the Russian government's demand that it remove YouTube ads featuring Alexei Navalny, a well-known critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Google, which owns YouTube, took down the ads ahead of yesterday's regional gubernatorial elections. According to a Saturday Facebook post from Leonid Volkov, an aide to Navalny, Russia's Central Electoral Commission claimed that the ads violated election laws.

Russia prohibits political campaigning within 24 hours of an election. Moscow previously warned the company of possible prosecution if it didn't remove the videos.

Yet the ads in question don't appear to be related to the elections. Instead, Navalny called on citizens to protest a government plan to raise the retirement age. "The rallies scheduled for 9/9 do not have anything to do with the upcoming regional elections," Volkov wrote on Facebook. Google's actions, he added, are "political censorship."

"We consider all justified appeals from state bodies," Google said in a statement. "We also require advertisers to act in accordance with the local law and our advertising policies."

Even without the ads, Russians took to the streets yesterday to protest the pension plan. About 2,500 people gathered in Moscow alone, and police made more than 800 arrests nationwide. The proposal, which would raise the retirement age from 60 to 65 for men and 55 to 60 for women, is highly unpopular in Russia, boasting a disapproval rating of roughly 80 percent.

Navalny didn't take part in the protests, as he's currently serving a 30-day sentence for violating public demonstration laws. Navalny, who was barred from challenging Putin in March's presidential election, has faced jail time due to his protests several other times in the past.

Photo Credit: Kremlin Pool/ZUMA Press/Newscom

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  • sarcasmic||

    Trump must be some jealous.

  • Mickey Rat||

    I think you mean about 60% of the US political class. You can judge which 60%.

  • ||

    As long as my cost to search doesn't go up what the fuck do I care?

  • Just Say'n||

    China is laughing their asses off. It's amazing how they never get called out on this

  • Just Say'n||

    Plus, it would be unconscionable for a president to demand that a social media network censor someone and I doubt these companies would abide.

    Well, unless they have the right politics, then we'll just pretend like it never happened.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    It's Feinstein that's jealous.

  • Seamus||

    So Google caves to Russia's enforcement of its own version of McCain-Feingold.

  • Just Say'n||

    It's a private company, you should "respect it's decision".

    That's what you've been saying all along, Joe. Please start making sense

  • Just Say'n||

    Joe, meet Joe.

    "Social media companies may indeed be "hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas." But that's their right."


    "As I argued in July, privately run companies have every right to promote viewpoints they like and censor the ones they don't."

  • Just Say'n||

    "they should at least respect a private company's right to promote some views over others."

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I think it's a conversation Libertarians at least need to entertain. If the United States senate is telling the social media companies to do a better job of policing fake news and hate speech, or "they'll do it for them", and five minutes later, a bunch of accounts get mysteriously banned for vague reasons across a dozen platforms at exactly the same time, do we continue to just write the whole thing because "they're a private corporation and they can do what they want"?

  • Just Say'n||

    I prefer that Reason writers just continue to beclown themselves

  • Teddy Pump||

    At this point they are not private companies anymore, but public utilities......Anywhoo, they were either created by the US Govt. (CIA with FB) or get big tax breaks & other subsidies at this point!

  • damikesc||

    Hey, Bob Mueller, lookit this collusion over here!

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Google Obeys Russia's Demand to Remove Putin Critic's YouTube Ads
    An aide for the jailed dissident calls Google's actions "political censorship."

    Dianne Feinstein could learn a lot from Putin.

  • BYODB||

    I would find it most interesting if U.S. companies were forced to only do business in nations that respect human rights. Well, we'd all be against that of course. Prices could only go up!



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