Google seems to be aligning itself with the Trump administration in its efforts to isolate and demonize Iran. The search giant is removing Iranian state media from YouTube
Iran’s Press TV reports.
On Thursday, Google removed 39 YouTube channels linked to the Iranian state broadcaster [Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting or IRIB]. Google terminated those accounts, along with six blogs on its Blogger service and 13 Google+ accounts linked with Iran. The move came after Twitter and Facebook also blocked hundreds of accounts on suspicion of possible ties with Iran.
IRIB condemned the action a “clear example of censorship” aimed at preventing the dissemination of truth and alternative viewpoints online.
Iran’s leading site for international news, Press TV, was also shut out of the Google platform. Press TV describes itself as “the first Iranian international news network, broadcasting in English on a round-the-clock basis”
“Your Google Account was disabled and can’t be restored because it was used in a way that violates Google’s policies,” Google said in a message that appears after Press TV tries to log into its account.
Is this censorship or a crackdown on disinformation?
The news coverage of Press TV, which I read regularly, favors the government of President Rouhani in much the same way the Voice of America favors the U.S. government. It is not as conservative as some Iranian outlets, which are hostile to Rouhani. If you want to know what’s going on in Iranian politics, it is not a bad source.
Press TV also has detailed and non-propagandistic coverage of Iran’s excellent (and often independent) movie industry. Maybe Google doesn’t know it, but in the context of Iranian politics and culture, Press TV’s cultural reporting is positively liberal and cosmopolitan.
Today, for example, I learned from Press TV that the Iranian state film agency, the Farabi Foundation, rejected government pressure to boycott Western film festivals in protest of Trump’s pressure campaign of sanctions and demonization.
Responding to calls for boycotting the 2019 competition in response to hostile US actions targeting Iran, Farabi Foundation said, “The Academy is a non-governmental institution and belongs to American cineastes.”
It added, “American cinema, in particular the Academy members, in their attitude of mind, alongside the absolute majority of the US press and media, are the main centers for opposition, criticism, and divergence against [President Donald] Trump’s populism and his racist and despotic policies.”
Google has decided it shouldn’t give a platform to news organizations that would report such a thing because of unspecified violations of its “terms of service.” In this way, Google has aligned itself with reactionary forces in Iran who want to curb ties with the West.
Of course, the social media platforms are keen to cut down on the spread of misinformation and disinformation on their platform. But most of the content of Press TV fit either category. The site’s accurate reporting on views of the Iranian government may be unpopular in the United States but it is not in the same category a Pizza-gate video. At its worse, Press TV is a cheerleader for the government, the same sort of role played by Fox News and RT.
The Google ban seems to be in line with the US government’s stepped-up pressure on Iran and an all-out propaganda campaign against the country, which includes targeting Iranian media.
I’m contacting Google to see if they will be more forthcoming about their Iran decision.