Journalist: leaked slides describe YouTube censorship in Ukraine

According to reports, a Polish contractor lost his job after posting screenshots from an internal training program.

On Tuesday, a tutorial for YouTube's content moderators surfaced on social media, revealing that the Google-owned service has branded several opposing viewpoints on the conflict in Ukraine as "hateful" or "extreme," and that it has the authority to censor content or demonetize creators based on those designations. The screenshots' veracity hasn't been confirmed or refuted by parent company Alphabet, but a Polish contractor who provided them is said to have lost his job.

Internal codes and instances of what YouTube has deemed "harmful" or "hateful" content are displayed in six screenshots posted by Russian journalist Andrey Guselnikov on Telegram in a course that is required for content moderators.

The "glorification/promotion of [the] 'Z' sign linked with the Russian military" is classified under policy ID 864 as "hate" and "extreme," according to the slides. The struggle is being waged, as Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed in February, "to denazify the Ukrainian government."

If the authorities determine it amounts to "promotion or glorification," saying the "Ukraine military is assaulting its own people" is problematic, falling between "harmful-misinformation-moderate" (ID 862) and "harmful-misinformation-extreme" (ID 863).

There was no indication of whether either standard would apply, for instance, to accusations that Ukrainian artillery had targeted Ukrainian civilians residing in Russian-controlled territory.

The phrase "US-funded bioweapons labs in Ukraine" is also highlighted under Policies 862 and 863. Presumably, the key word here is "bioweapons," as the US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland acknowledged the existence of "biological research facilities" in Ukraine in a Senate testimony in March, and the Russian military has repeatedly provided evidence that these labs were funded by the US government and the Pentagon in particular.

There is no "full-scale block on all content" associated with the issue, according to one of the presentations, which lists several claims that are "out of scope."

Guselnikov claims that a Polish national called Kamil Kozera, who formerly worked for Majorel, a company that YouTube contracted for content monitoring, is the source of the stolen presentations. Kozera was dismissed by YouTube due to the leak when YouTube managed to identify him from the screenshots. Since RT is unable to independently confirm the veracity of the screenshots, it has contacted YouTube for comment.

Early in March, the video hosting service, which is a part of Silicon Valley behemoth Alphabet along with Google, expanded the initial restriction imposed by the EU authorities in their jurisdiction by barring RT, Sputnik, and all channels "affiliated with Russian state-funded media" globally. Additionally, it "paused" "all of the means to monetize" on the network in Russia, including sponsorships and super chats.

In May, Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, said during a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos that the company maintains operations in Russia so it can "deliver independent news" to Russians. She added that "What we're seeing in this conflict is that information does play a key role, that information can be weaponized."

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