Did YouTube just make an enemy out of the Kremlin?

On Sunday, the Google-owned site took down the Russian news outlet, Russia Today (RT), for roughly eight hours.  

Visiting the English-speaking but government funded Russian news channel on Sunday revealed the following message:

“This channel has been suspended due to multiple or severe violations of YouTube’s policy against spam, scams, and commercially deceptive content.”

RT was quick to respond to the take-down, with RT’s Web promotion chief Mikhail Konrad saying in a press release, “There have been no copyright or community guideline violations on our part which could result in this kind of measures.”

According to RT, YouTube called it a “technical mistake,” which could have happened due to false flagging by the community. As RT noted, some of their viewers speculated  “everything from censorship to a hacker attack... [s]ome of them said this is “ACTA in action”, while others focused on the timing, which coincided with an NYPD crackdown on an OWS protest in New York which was being covered by the channel.”

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who happens to be a big fan of the media organization, called the temporary Russia Today blackout “censorship” and proof that Google is trying to “purge” alternative media sources.

“WTH is going on? If this is corporate sponsored censorship, I'm scared,” commented Bobcat665 on another video calling the Russia Today blackout “censorship.”

These types of “corporate censorship” comments are a fundamental misunderstanding of how YouTube operates: YouTube does not police its own site but rather relies on the community to flag videos that are inappropriate or violating terms of service.

Chatter among Twitter accounts associated with the hacktivist collective Anonymous and Occupy Wall Street, reveal frustration at RT’s recent Occupy Wall Street and WikiLeaks coverage. If any group mass-flagged the government-owned media outlet, which critics have called paranoid propaganda, those two seem the likeliest instigators.

Neither has taken credit for the blackout, however.  

Russia Today was one of the first media outlets to set up shop on YouTube and is the most-watched media source on YouTube with over 700 million views to date.   

Photo by believekevin