Acting as a news aggregator on several news sites, Google News is on Russia’s long list of blocked news sources.
As simple as it sounds, the reason is that Roskomnadzor, the body created by the Kremlin to control and eventually censor news sources available to Russian citizens, has no power over Google’s algorithms. According to the Interfax news agency website, the Google News platform “has provided access to numerous publications and documents that present false and publicly relevant information about the progress of the special military operation in Ukraine”.
While Russia can individually block most foreign news sites, Google News is a special case, being a fairly well-known platform for the general public, where all kinds of centralized information can be found in independent sources.
Russia has already blocked Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Suspiciously, the power of the Kremlin still allows WhatsApp to operate, despite Meta, the parent company which also owns Facebook and Instagram, being classified by a local court as an extremist entity.
According to the judge’s decision, Meta is effectively banned from opening offices or doing business in Russia, according to Russian state agency TASS. But Russian citizens will not be accused of extremism just because they use one of the Meta platforms or services (that is, if they can access them).