YouTube: Latent Power and a Potential Flash Point within Russia?

August 8, 2022

I read the estimable Murdoch write up called “How YouTube Keeps Broadcasting Inside Russia’s Digital Iron Curtain.” And how about this subtitle?

Access to the video site allows Russians access to one of the few sources of independent information about the Ukraine war

(Keep in mind that you will have to pay to view the article on the site.)

I have suggested that Russia’s regulators see the Google as a giant piggy bank with a ceramic head resembling Godzilla’s. How powerful is Google’s YouTube? The write up suggests that the Alphabet Google YouTube DeepMind thing is pretty powerful. Well, actually what’s powerful is YouTube and its millions upon millions of videos.

Here’s the key statement in the “real” news article:

“Some banks are too big to fail, and some apps are too big to be blocked,” stated Nu Wexler, a former coverage communications staffer at Google, Meta and Twitter. “The Russian government knows they would face a backlash if they were to block a popular app like YouTube in the country.”

Why not enjoy the videos on Rutube, Rumble, or the high quality streamgun.vod site? The reason, according to one attendee at a law enforcement, crime analyst, and intelligence professional centric conference boils down to YouTube being Number One with a bullet.

The idea is that in some of the cheerful outposts in Siberia as well as the toasty towns in Sochi, YouTube is the primary source of entertainment. Okay, but I suggested vodka was the big dog. Wrong, I learned. Despite the quality of Russian state television and the outstanding Russian motion pictures, YouTube kept the young folks busy.

I have yet to see credible data which suggests that YouTube, not Russia billboards, is the information gun in Russia. There is, of course, TikTok and some of the low cost pirate streaming services. YouTube has triumphed it is alleged.

Here’s a factoid from the write up I saw:

YouTube had greater than 85 million month-to-month distinctive viewers in Russia in June, in line with analytics firm.

And how about this allegedly accurate item?

The video website was utilized by 47% of a pattern of Russians surveyed in April by the unbiased Russian pollster Levada Center, making it the nation’s second-most common social community behind native service VKontakte.

Maybe Rutube can displace the GOOG’s YouTube? Maybe:

Russian officers have stated state cash could be invested into Rutube, a unit of the state-owned vitality big Gazprom PJSC that options pro-Moscow content material. It had 9.7 million month-to-month distinctive viewers in Russia in June, SimilarWeb stated.

Net net: No wonder the Alphabet Google YouTube DeepMind operation finds pesky laws enacted by nation-states annoying. YouTube is able to do what Ukraine cannot: Displace that which it finds annoying and a threat to its data collection and advertising efforts. Google is in a position to trigger social unrest in Russia by pulling out of the country’s datasphere. That’s power. What if YouTube were used to incite citizen unrest in Russia and maybe a couple of other countries?

Interesting idea and worth consideration by some I suppose.

Stephen E Arnold, August 8, 2022


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