Notice in Lumen reveals that EU mandated removal of Russian state-sponsored news from Google’s search engine

Lumen Database Team
3 min readMar 10, 2022

On March 04, 2022, the European Commission sent a content removal request to Google requiring all content by RT and Sputnik, Russian Federation’s State-controlled media outlets, to be de-indexed from Google’s search result.

Associate Professor of Law at UCD Sutherland School of Law, Dublin, Dr. TJ McIntyre found the related content removal request sent to Google by the European Commission in the Lumen Database and discussed it in a Twitter thread. This notice was sent within the context of the ongoing Russian invasion in Ukraine and the ensuing information war online that attempts to sway the narrative. The European Union also addressed this information war on March 02, 2022, by introducing a Regulation which imposed restrictive measures on online platforms in view of “Russia’s actions destabilizing the situation in Ukraine” and its “international campaign of media manipulation.”

The notice in the Lumen Database sent by Google includes a document that provides additional details and reasonings behind the Commission’s decision. In this document, the Commission has noted that RT and Sputnik continued to ‘gravely distort and manipulate facts to target ‘European Political Parties, asylum seekers, minorities and the functioning of democratic institutions in the EU’. As a measure to ‘unskew’ the narrative, the document notes that ‘social media’ is required to prevent users from broadcasting content of RT and Sputnik. The Commission has also required that accounts belonging to RT and Sputnik affiliates be banned and posts reproducing their content be prohibited and deleted. This measure of drastically limiting information sharing from RT and Sputnik has also been extended to individuals that may act as ‘spokespersons’ of the news agencies as well, likely including team members of the organizations, although arguably this may encompass a larger group of politicians, bureaucrats and others who often use their accounts to broadcast the state-sponsored content posted by RT and Sputnik.

Tech companies including Apple, Meta, YouTube, Google and Twitter have also announced sweeping changes in order to limit the use of their services by Russian citizens and the Russian government within the last week. This move by the European Commission is a nation state-level version of these efforts to moderate content coming out of Russia.

The Commission acknowledges that these measures are extraordinary and depart fully from the E-Commerce Directive, which is an EU regulation that presently regulates content moderation in the EU. Even so, the Commission justifies them on the ground of ‘the situation and its temporary character’. It is worth considering that these measures will likely set precedent for how content online may be controlled globally to escalate or de-escalate international tensions offline, likely transforming the sensitive balancing act of content moderation into a ‘supervised attempt’ at creating controlled narratives.

Even though information has come to light about the European Commission’s content removal (or banning) requests sent to only Google so far, it is highly likely that similar information and mandates may have been sent to other online platforms as well. A telling sign of this is that the EU’s enclosed document in the removal request sent to Google makes references to ‘user accounts’, ‘reproduction of content’ and ‘video sharing platforms’ which hints that similar removal requests may have been sent to other platforms that enable activities like account creation, video sharing, content reproduction by their users.

The only reason this one piece of information is available to the public is because Google continues to be transparent about the content removal requests it receives by sharing copies of such notices with the Lumen Database. In the past, the notices shared with the Lumen Database have also been used to bring light to content removal requests sent by other governments including India, Turkey and Russia. It may be timely and important for other online platforms to consider taking actions to share copies of content removal requests with Lumen in an attempt to further their commitment to transparency.

If you’re an academic, journalist or scholar interested in getting researcher access to Lumen or an Online Service Provider interested in sharing removal requests sent to your platform with Lumen, please reach out to us on

About the author: Shreya Tewari works as a Research Fellow at the Lumen Project.



Lumen Database Team

Collecting and facilitating research on requests to remove online material. Visit and email us if you have questions.