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  • - [Narrator] This social media platform

  • is a Russian state-owned alternative to YouTube.

  • The Kremlin has been promoting

  • the homegrown network, RuTube,

  • as part of a battle for Russian users and their minds.

  • That's because in the country

  • social media platforms have increasingly become

  • one of the main sources of information

  • challenging state television.

  • - YouTube is the most important platform

  • for millions of people.

  • - [Narrator] So, we examine the Russian video platform

  • at the center of the Kremlin's push to attract users

  • away from foreign networks,

  • limiting their access to independent news

  • during the war in Ukraine.

  • Owned by a Russian state company,

  • RuTube is a video platform almost as old as YouTube

  • and visually very similar to it

  • and the Kremlin has been outspoken about its potential.

  • (speaker speaking in Russian)

  • Since the war in Ukraine started,

  • YouTube has been one of the last sources

  • of alternative news in Russia.

  • That's because Instagram and Facebook

  • are blocked in the country.

  • That happened after the parent company Meta

  • barred access to some state channels in Europe,

  • following requests from the European Union

  • and British authorities.

  • YouTube remains available in Russia

  • but there are concerns about its future there,

  • especially after the Kremlin and RuTube

  • have been on a mission to draw people away

  • from the American network.

  • (speaker speaking in Russian)

  • The company has partnered with some popular vloggers

  • and offered content creators 100% of the revenue

  • from ad views during the first 40 days after joining.

  • The incentive came after YouTube paused monetization

  • in Russia as a response to its aggression in Ukraine.

  • This means vloggers can no longer make money

  • from ad views from users in Russia.

  • A month later, some popular Russian celebrities and vloggers

  • who were on YouTube also started using RuTube.

  • The platform's usership has also grown

  • as the Kremlin encouraged government departments,

  • universities and state-backed media outlets

  • to migrate their content from YouTube to RuTube.

  • - [Male Voice] Top Blog.

  • - [Narrator] And Moscow is investing

  • in a new generation of vloggers

  • with the program teaching Russians how to become successful

  • on domestic platforms like RuTube.

  • But the government support is one reason

  • some users don't feel like switching.

  • - There is no trust to anything made by the government

  • especially in order to replace something

  • already good and foreign.

  • (speaking in Russian)

  • - [Narrator] Leionid Pashkowski is a Russian speaking

  • travel blogger and journalist

  • with more than 1 million followers on YouTube.

  • He says he's skeptical about RuTube

  • replacing YouTube for Russian viewers.

  • - I just tried to watch something

  • or find something in there

  • and there was no views counters under the videos.

  • - [Narrator] And data from analytics firm, Similarweb

  • shows that there are fewer users on RuTube than on YouTube.

  • In May, RuTube had some 38 million visits,

  • a number dwarfed by the nearly 2 billion visits to YouTube

  • only from Russia.

  • Some users can be put off by RuTube

  • because of censorship concerns

  • which begin to emerge when uploading a video.

  • According to RuTube's content curation info page,

  • getting a video on the platform can take up to 24 hours

  • as its moderation team watches every video

  • before other users can access it.

  • And RuTube says, "It adheres to the observance of the law

  • and generally accepted norms of morality."

  • It couldn't be determined if all videos

  • go through human creation or how the platform decides

  • what videos to check manually or automatically.

  • - Any type of independent creators and political activists

  • cannot rely on RuTube.

  • - [Narrator] Gregory Asmolov studies the Russian internet

  • at King's College London.

  • He says, even if content that's not aligned

  • with the Kremlin's rhetoric made it onto YouTube,

  • its algorithms wouldn't promote it.

  • - And that's why YouTube is used by those

  • who are willing to find some kind of space

  • to express their voice.

  • - [Narrator] YouTube also curates content.

  • According to the company's community guidelines,

  • its policies prohibit hate speech, misinformation

  • and harmful or dangerous content.

  • YouTube also says it uses human moderators

  • and an upload process that automatically screens

  • for potential issues before posting.

  • But the uploading time is faster

  • and the company says it can take anywhere from a few minutes

  • to several hours based on the file size and bandwidth.

  • YouTube didn't comment on its content moderation criteria

  • and the challenge from RuTube in Russia.

  • - YouTube definitely is still serving in Russia.

  • - [Narrator] The American tech giant has said

  • it's important to let people in Russia have access

  • to independent news.

  • - YouTube will be blocked.

  • People in Russia will be closed in a bubble

  • of just Russian information and just propaganda.

  • - [Narrator] RuTube and its parent company Gazprom-Media

  • didn't respond to a request for comment about censorship

  • and view count concerns.

  • The Kremlin said its promotion of RuTube

  • started long before the conflict in Ukraine

  • as it's always seen the potential of the platform.

  • As RuTube tries to gain momentum and take on YouTube,

  • internet media experts say it'll require

  • a really important quality

  • that's one of the most difficult to replicate.

  • - That lacks the global spirit of user generated content

  • that you can see on YouTube.

  • Therefore, we can see that YouTube continues

  • to be extremely popular in Russia

  • and RuTube is not able to replace YouTube

  • as a local alternative.

- [Narrator] This social media platform

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Rutube Vs. YouTube: How the Kremlin Is Trying to Win Over Russian Viewers | WSJ

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    Yui posted on 2022/07/30
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