Google Halts Ads Condoning Ukraine War as Russia Bans Access to Site

Russia's communications regulatory body has announced restrictions to Google News, accusing the company of promoting false or misleading content about the war in Ukraine, on the same day that Google is also reportedly going to stop monetization from ads on videos that "exploits, dismisses or condones" the ongoing war, according to Reuters.

The company has an existing policy that prevents ads from being displayed on videos or other content that incites violence or promotes false information or conspiracy theories.

An email to publishers reported by Reuters states that Google will not place ads next to content that "claims that imply victims are responsible for their own tragedy or similar instances of victim blaming, such as claims that Ukraine is committing genocide or deliberately attacking its own citizens," both of which are claims that have repeatedly been made by Russian officials.

Earlier this month, Google-owned video platform YouTube halted the placement of ads on the accounts of Russian creators, shortly after the Russian government demanded that YouTube remove ads from videos that contained "false political information" about Ukraine. Microsoft, owner of the second-largest search engine Bing, halted the sale of products and services, including ads, in Russia earlier this month as well.

"We can confirm that we're taking additional steps to clarify, and in some instances expand our monetization guidelines as they relate to the war in Ukraine," a Google spokesperson said in a statement to Newsweek. "This builds on our current restrictions on Russian state-funded media, as well as our ongoing enforcement against content that incites violence or denies the occurrence of tragic events."

Russian officials have maintained their commitment to accusing Western media of publishing false or misleading information and have continued to refer to the invasion of Ukraine as a "special military operation" that is focused on suppressing "separatists" and "denazifying" Ukraine.

"We've confirmed that some people are having difficulty accessing the Google News app and website in Russia and that this is not due to any technical issues on our end," a Google spokesperson said in another statement to Newsweek. "We've worked hard to keep information services like News accessible to people in Russia for as long as possible."

Russian-owned state media reported that Roskomnadzor, Russia's communications regulator, had acted at the request of the prosecutor general in restricting access to Google News over the promotion of "false information" about the war in Ukraine.

"The aforementioned American online news resource provided access to numerous publications and materials containing unreliable socially significant information about the course of a special military operation on the territory of Ukraine," the regulator said, according to TASS, a state-owned media network.

Hundreds of companies have closed their stores, pulled their business and stopped selling products in Russia in the month since the invasion began, with others facing mounting public pressure to do so.

Several companies who have faced legal trouble in closing locations because of independently-owned stores within Russia have donated or contributed to humanitarian efforts like Subway and Burger King, Newsweek previously reported.

Follow Newsweek's live blog for updates on the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Update 3/24/22, 11:10 a.m. ET: This story has been updated with a statement from Google.

Google Russia Ukraine
Google will stop selling ads to appear next to content that "exploits, dismisses or condones" the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. Above, Google logos are displayed on computer screens November 20, 2017. Loic Venance/AFP via Getty Images