After days of rising pressure on tech firms to take further action against Russia in the wake of its invasion into Ukraine, Apple has confirmed that it will remove Russian state-owned media outlets comprising Russia Today (RT News) and Sputnik News from the App Store in all markets outside Russia itself. The changes follow other actions taken against these two state-owned media operations both in the EU and worldwide.
Apple Pulls Russian State-Owned Media Outlets from its App Store
Moreover, recently, Microsoft banned these Russian state-owned media outlets from its Windows app store and de-ranked both news sources in its search engine Bing. Google banned the RT News app in Ukraine at the request of the government in Kyiv. Roku has also banned Russian state-owned media outlets from its streaming platform. Twitter flagged tweets from the media outlets with warnings and de-ranked their tweets. Facebook limited the access to the sites, making them unavailable in the EU, as did TikTok. And Google also removed them from YouTube.
The Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Wrote a Letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook
Apple’s move to pull these Russian state-owned media outlets from its global App Stores follows a request from Ukrainian vice prime minister Mykhailo Fedorov, who penned a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook requesting Apple to stop device sales in Russia and block access to the App Store entirely. According to data provided by app intelligence firms Sensor Tower and Apptopia, the two Russian state-owned media outlets had millions of lifetime downloads and were live as of yesterday in global markets.
In the U.S. App Store, RT News had been ranked No. 42 in the News category as of February 28th, and Sputnik was ranked No. 85, Sensor Tower said. In addition, worldwide installs of RT News for iOS were up 241% in the last seven days compared to the seven days prior. And Sputnik installs on iOS were up 163% for the same period, the firm noted.