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US censorship of Russian media failed – Microsoft report

RT and Sputnik still reach American audiences despite Big Tech removing on behalf of Ukraine

Silicon Valley’s efforts to suppress “Russian Propaganda” — that is, outlets like RT and Sputnik — on behalf of Ukraine may have reduced their reach, but they are still reaching more Americans than before fighting broke out in Ukraine, a revealed Microsoft in a report on the ongoing cyber war on the Kyiv side. RT and Sputnik still get as many monthly page views as a major US corporation, the tech company said.

kyiv relied on a “coalition of countries, companies and NGOs” for cyber defense, moving its digital infrastructure to the public cloud hosted in the West, according to the report titled “Defending Ukraine: First Lessons from Cyberwarfare”,published Wednesday and signed by Brad Smith, president and vice president of Microsoft.

The 30-page pamphlet seeks to label all reporting from Russia as Kremlin propaganda and “global cyber influence operations” to support the war effort in Ukraine. They “combining the tactics developed by the KGB over several decades with new digital technologies and the Internet” at “take advantage of the old openness of democratic societies and the public polarization that characterizes the current era”, according to Smith.

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Microsoft claims that “Russian Cyber ​​Influence Operations” led to an 82% increase in propaganda delivery in the United States and 216% in Ukraine, and that “The tech industry’s efforts in early March to limit the amplification of RT and Sputnik narratives likely helped reduce the spread of Russian propaganda to pre-February levels.”

According to Microsoft estimates, RT and Sputnik still get between 60 million and 80 million monthly page views on average in the United States, making Russian influence suspected “on par with a major publication like the Wall Street Journal.”

The company co-founded by Bill Gates bases these estimates and ratings on the Russian Propaganda Index (RPI), a tool developed by his “AI for a good laboratory.” The lab also used “a wide variety of Internet sources and other identifying characteristics” to determine and even predict which sites might be considered Russian propaganda online, relying in part on firms like NewsGuard and the Global Disinformation Index (GDI).

The United States has a constitutional ban on overt censorship, but Silicon Valley-based YouTube has blocked access to“Russian State Media”channels around the world since the conflict in Ukraine broke out.

After blocking RT and Sputnik in the European Union on March 1 at the request of EU governments, YouTube announced a few days later that it was extending this censorship globally and to all channels.“associated with Russian state-funded media”. 

The EU Council of Ministers banned RT and Sputnik on March 2, citing the conflict in Ukraine, and said it would remain in effect until Russia stopped carrying out what it called,“Disinformation and Information Manipulation Actions against the EU and its Member States.”Australia, Canada and the UK have followed suit.