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YouTube Erases RT’s Flagship Channel RT Deutsch Over Alleged ‘Medical Misinformation’

Yesterday, YouTube deleted two of RT’s channels, RT Deutsch (RT DE), along with the channel for talk show “DFP” (Der Fehlende Part, “The Missing Piece”). 

In recent years, the popular RT DE had amassed over 600,000 subscribers and has tallied hundreds of millions of views. 

RT International explained how YouTube engineered the deletion their channels:

The Google-owned video service “has deleted the RT DE channel, as well as our second channel DFP [Der Fehlende Part, “the missing piece”]without the right to restoration,” Dinara Toktosunova, head of RT in Germany, announced on her Telegram channel on Tuesday.

The main RT DE channel was barred from live-streaming and uploading videos for seven days since September 21, on the basis of a strike over “community guidelines” violations, for alleged “medical misinformation” in four videos. YouTube did not elaborate on what specifically was questionable in the clips. The videos, some weeks while others months old, focused on the Covid-19 crisis. They featured, among others, an interview with German epidemiologist Friedrich Puerner, who was critical of the governmental ways of battling the pandemic.

The strike was due to expire on Tuesday, but YouTube removed the channel. The social media platform said in a statement: “We have reviewed your content and found severe or repeated violations of our Community Guidelines. Because of this, we have removed your channel from Youtube.”

The same thing happened with DFP, which had no strikes and posted RT DE content. A YouTube representative later confirmed that publishing material on the DFP was, according to the tech giant, a violation of the strike handed to RT DE’s main channel. As a result, both channels were deleted.

The incident has ignited a diplomatic war of words between Russia’s foreign ministry and their counterparts in Berlin.

YouTube claims it began removing the popular channels because one or more videos allegedly contained “medical misinformation” as pertaining to Covid-19. As per usual, YouTube would not tell the channel owners what exactly was said on the program in question which constituted a ‘medical misinformation’ violation. In this instance, it appears that YouTube’s censorship department objected to comments made by an expert guest on an RT DE news program who criticized some of the German government’s Covid policies.

More likely though, the incident is geopolitical in nature. It is not inconceivable that YouTube, in concert with governments in the US and other G7 and NATO allies, would use the intentionally vague claim of COVID or vaccine “medical misinformation” as an opaque blanket excuse to censor or delete whatever channels they want – especially a Russian English language channel which is out-competing native German channels for views online. Certainly, the deletion of a major Russian channel would be seen as a high priority for western governments. In that case, the takedown was intentional, with officials in Washington and their operatives embedded at Google and YouTube possibly steering events along.

However, the move could be very dangerous – by banning state media it could threaten to start a tit-for-tat media war. This already seems to be escalating in that direction, as Russia has now responded by threatening to block YouTube within Russian territory. Politico reports:

This morning, Roskomnadzor, the Russian government’s media watchdog, threatened to block YouTube in Russia if it didn’t restore the banned channels, RBC news reported.

Margarita Simonyan, RT’s editor-in-chief, called the ban a “real media war declared by the state of Germany to the state of Russia” in a tweet. She also called for the Russian state to respond by banning German public-service broadcasters, like ARD and ZDF.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry described the termination of RT’s channels as an “unprecedented information aggression” in a statement.

Such a sudden breakdown in communication can often signal a prelude to disintegrating diplomacy, and even increased war footing.

Last night, 21WIRE editor Patrick Henningsen spoke to RT International about the incident and the possible reasons behind it. Watch: 

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