YouTube has permanently deleted two of RT’s German-language channels, the news outlet has announced. RT DE was listed among top News & Politics channels on the social media platform, with hundreds of millions of views.
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.
RT DE was among the top five German-language channels in YouTube’s News and Politics category, based on Tubular Labs data for August, with over 600,000 subscribers and almost 547 million total views.
In recent months, RT DE has faced mounting pressure in Germany, including over its plans to launch a TV broadcast later this year. In mid-August, Luxembourg denied RT’s application for a German-language broadcast license. Chancellor Angela Merkel denied pressuring the neighbouring country to do so, despite multiple German outlets reporting that representatives from Berlin met with Luxembourg officials to discuss the issue.
Ahead of the planned TV launch, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said some German media outlets had waged “an outright information war” against RT. The same month, Die Welt – owned by the Axel Springer conglomerate – published two opinion pieces that German courts later found contained false claims about RT DE.
Earlier this year, Commerzbank abruptly and without explanation announced that it was shutting down accounts associated with RT DE. When the outlet reached out to other German banks, its inquiries about doing business were ignored or rejected.