YouTube removed 70,000 videos in Ukraine-related enforcement action

The company called the move "unprecedented."


Since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, YouTube has taken down more than 70,000 videos to date related to the conflict, The Guardian reported on Sunday. The company told The Guardian it removed many of the videos for breaking its major violent events policy, which prohibits content creators from denying or trivializing events like the invasion.

YouTube did not breakdown the enforcement action but noted that it suspended approximately 9,000 channels in the sweep, including one tied to pro-Kremlin journalist Vladimir Solovyov. Some of the videos YouTube took down broke the company’s guidelines by referring to the invasion as a “liberation mission.”

“We have a major violent events policy and that applies to things like denial of major violent events: everything from the Holocaust to Sandy Hook. And of course, what’s happening in Ukraine is a major violent event,” Neal Mohan, YouTube’s chief product officer, told The Guardian. “And so we’ve used that policy to take unprecedented action.”

Partly resulting from its actions, YouTube has seen a significant increase in the number of people in Ukraine, Poland and Russia consuming “authoritative” content on the conflict. In Ukraine, for instance, news content on the invasion has generated more than 40 million views. “The first and probably most paramount responsibility is making sure that people who are looking for information about this event can get accurate, high-quality, credible information on YouTube,” Mohan told The Guardian.

The move underscores the critical role services like YouTube play in preventing misinformation from spreading online. In Russia alone, YouTube has more than 90 million users, making it the single largest video-sharing platform in the country. The company’s actions against state-sponsored networks like RT and Sputnik had a dramatic impact on the ability of those organizations to disseminate the Kremlin’s message.