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Increasing Pressure On SouthFront

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On January 31, we released a video with details on the ongoing technical and media pressure campaign against SouthFront.

The start of this campaign followed a series of SouthFront reports covering the crash of the US Air Force E-11A electronic surveillance aircraft in Afghanistan and addressing accounts of the supposed death of the top CIA officer involved in the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.

On January 28, the Google search service started showing a new widget for people searching with the keyword “SouthFront”. Instead of SouthFront’s official logo, the widget showcases third party pictures.

However, the mysterious developments with Google search are only the tip of the iceberg. For years, SouthFront has experienced major problems with the monetization of our videos on YouTube. Long story short, most of the content cannot be monetized because it supposedly violates YouTube monetization policies. In other words, we say something, which the service does not like. Now, our website, southfront.org, has become a target of the same approach.

On January 28, Google AdSense ads on many southfront.org pages were restricted under the pretext that the pages contain “dangerous or derogatory content”.

incites hatred against, promotes discrimination of, or disparages an individual or group on the basis of their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or other characteristic that is associated with systemic discrimination or marginalization.

harasses, intimidates, or bullies an individual or group of individuals.

threatens or advocates for harm to oneself or others.

exploits others through extortion.

Ads on over 40 pages have been restricted. Mainly, these are pages with content on the situation in the Middle East, including Israel- and Iran-related questions. Pages covering the situation in Ukraine were also targeted. An interesting fact is that Google mostly targeted articles with a high number of views (over 10,000).

Increasing Pressure On SouthFront

The situation on January 31

None of the articles on the restricted pages include any kind of what Google describes as “dangerous or derogatory content”. Even pages only containing  maps and infographics were restricted. We appealed against all of the restrictions and in about 90% of cases restrictions were lifted. The interesting fact is that the system also restricted some pages that had contained no Google Ads.

The list of the pages which remain restricted is perhaps not surprising . It looks as if the key issue is that these pages do not follow the mainstream narrative regarding the covered events. Furthermore, new complaints have continued to appear on an almost daily basis.

Increasing Pressure On SouthFront

Click to see the full-size image

There are two possible explanations. Either the ads restrictions are the result of actions by some SouthFront ill-wishers or the Google Team itself is forced to act within the guidelines of US government bodies in order to undermine media organizations and limit the audience’s ability to receive alternative points of view.

Regardless all the challenges, SouthFront, with your help, will continue to provide independent coverage of key military and diplomatic events around the world.

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