Google has stopped selling ads in Russia completely, according to Reuters. The tech giant's decision applies to YouTube, search and outside publishing partners, expanding the more limited ad bans it implemented since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. "In light of the extraordinary circumstances, we're pausing Google ads in Russia," the company told the news organization in a statement. "The situation is evolving quickly, and we will continue to share updates when appropriate."
The tech giant blocked RT and other Russian channels from generating ad revenue on YouTube in late February before barring Russian state media from being able to monetize their content across its platforms. It had also prohibited all kinds of ads that seek to take advantage of the situation, unless they're anti-war advertisements.
Google is far from the only tech company that has implemented ad-related changes across the region. Twitter had quickly paused ads and recommendations in Russia and Ukraine after the invasion began "to ensure critical public safety information is elevated and ads don't detract from it." Facebook blocked Russian state media from running ads on its platform after the country's authorities partially restricted access to the social network. More recently, it blocked access to RT and Sputnik within the EU and Ukraine before demoting all Russian state media on its website around the world. Microsoft banned RT and Sputnik from its ad platform, as well, and pulled their news apps from its store.
As The New York Times notes, Google has been very careful with its decisions involving Russia. It has over 100 employees in the country, and Russian authorities previously threatened to prosecute individuals if their employers don't abide by their rules.
Google's decision to ban all ad sales in the country comes shortly after Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor demanded the takedown of YouTube video ads it says are spreading "false political information" about Ukraine. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Roskomnadzor is accusing YouTube of running "advertising campaigns to misinform the Russian audience" and are "aimed at creating a distorted perception of current events."
The regulator didn't say whether it would limit YouTube in Russia if Google doesn't comply, but Russian authorities have been blocking websites that provide information contradicting their country's official narrative about the invasion. In addition to restricting access to Facebook within the country, the Russian government also limited people's access to Twitter and previously threatened to block Wikipedia.