YouTube unblocked Indian news channel WION—which had been banned for reporting Russia’s statement on the Ukraine war—on March 26 after the news channel’s campaign against YouTube’s censorship garnered over 26,000 tweets in support.
“After a massive, viewer-led 12-hour campaign that saw over 26k (and counting) tweets in our support, YouTube unblocked WION,” the news outlet said in a tweet.
WION had previously been banned for seven days by YouTube over a video it posted on March 10 that showed two live speeches, the first by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba and the second by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Lavrov said in his speech that Russia “did not attack Ukraine” and that Moscow had “explained on numerous occasions that there was a situation that posed a direct threat to the security of the Russian Federation.”
WION said that it was only informed about the suspension on March 22, when YouTube sent a message stating that the video was in violation of its community guidelines.
YouTube also dismissed the news channel’s appeal, prompting WION to demand an explanation from the online video-streaming platform.
YouTube responded by saying that its community guidelines “prohibit content denying, minimizing, or trivializing well-documented violent events, including the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” according to WION’s statement.
“Under this policy, we have removed content, for example, denying that Russia invaded Ukraine or alleging that Ukrainian victims are crisis actors,” YouTube added.
WION argued that the video was simply showing Lavrov’s speech, just as it was showing Kuleba’s speech, and that it did not endorse either of the ministers’ statements.
“WION neither believes in censorship nor in telling half the story. Apparently, that’s what YouTube wants. Block out everything Russia says, promote everything the West says. WION does not subscribe to that sort of journalism. Its objective is to remain balanced,” the news channel stated.
“And for the record, this treatment was reserved only for WION—a channel from India. Not for Western channels,” WION added.
The news outlet appeared to emphasize that YouTube is not a “media watchdog,” saying that the tech company “cannot be a platform and act as an editor and a censor all at the same time” because doing so would be “rigging the game.”
Indian senior government adviser Kanchan Gupta claimed that YouTube’s censoring of WION was based on “racial prejudice and political bias.”
“YouTube blocks WION for showing Russian FM’s speech. But takes no such action against Western media for showing same speech. White media can; Brown media can’t?” Gupta said in a tweet.