Technology giant Google has removed Russia Today and Sputnik apps from the Play Store – its mobile app store. The move follows Apple’s lead which not only saw Apple remove these apps from App Store. Apple products are no longer on sale in Russia.
The European Union (EU) sanctioned the two Kremlin-linked outlets following Russia’s attack on Ukraine. According to the commission, the two Kremlin-linked media entities are a key strategic piece of Putin’s war machinery.
Unlike Apple which removed the app from every country except Russia, it is unclear if Google removed it from EU countries alone or from every country in the world. The ban is, however, expected to come into play today. Prior to the decision to remove, Russia Today app has already been banned by Google at the request of the government in Kyiv.
Other EU members have banned Russia Today’s broadcast in their countries. Germany, for instance, banned the German-language version of Russia Today’s broadcast. The pan-EU sanction means that there is more doom looming for Russia as it is a regional thing.
Google had already blocked the YouTube channels of Russia Today and Sputnik as of yesterday before it announced the removal of their apps on its Play Store platform. Google, irrespective of all it has done so far, has received criticisms for being slow to react to the Russian-Ukraine conflict compared to other companies.
Google’s rival, Microsoft says it has also banned Russia Today from its Windows app store and de-ranked both Russia Today and Sputnik from its search engine Bing.
Social media companies Meta, Twitter and others have also joined in the force aimed at curbing Russia’s attacks. Twitter is not only flagging tweets that contain links to Russian media outlets, it is also reducing their visibility. It has, however, not blocked these accounts and for these, it has received criticisms.
Facebook, on the other hand, says it is geo-blocking Russia Today and Sputnik in the EU. TikTok, which has gained widespread acceptance says it has done the same.