You're doing yourself a "disservice" following only Western media
During their coverage of the escalating tension in Ukraine, Western media have exposed their racism, white supremacy, and hypocrisy.
On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a special military operation to demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine, responding to calls from the people's republics of Donetsk and Lugansk for help in countering the aggression of Ukrainian forces, which has been ongoing since 2014.
The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that the special operation is targeting Ukrainian military infrastructure only and the civilian population is not in danger.
A couple of days before launching the operation, Putin had recognized the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk people's republics after weeks of escalating shelling, mortar, sniper, and sabotage attacks by Ukrainian armed forces and ultra-nationalist and neo-Nazi groups in the Donbass region.
Russia had for months been warning of the threat posed against it by NATO's attempts to expand eastward, which happened simultaneously with an increase in NATO military activity along Russia's borders, and batches of lethal weapons being sent to Ukraine, prompting Russia to request security guarantees from the West. Washington failed to provide the guarantees.
Hypocrisy and orientalist structures
As a result of the ongoing tension and escalation, many Ukrainians had to flee their homes and seek refuge.
While reporting on the refugee crisis, Western media outlets revealed their racism and orientalist approach to Arab, Muslim, and third-world countries, selectively comparing them with European refugees.
She didn’t get the memo. “To put it bluntly, these are not refugees from Syria, these are refugees from Ukraine... They're Christian, they're white, they're very similar." pic.twitter.com/1Ch88mtx5K— Arwa Ibrahim (@arwaib) February 27, 2022
"There's this idea, this orientalist idea, that war and chaos and destruction is something that takes place outside of Europe's borders," said Denijal Jegic, postdoctoral research fellow in communication and multimedia journalism and media at the Lebanese American University.
"We've seen several mainstream Western European American media using terms such as civilized, middle-class privileged and so on to refer to the refugees who were crossing from Ukraine into neighboring western countries, oftentimes showing some sort of surprise that what's taking place did not take place in Afghanistan or Iraq," he added.
Add Al Jazeera to the list... The Supremacy around the media coverage of this isn't even subtle. pic.twitter.com/ZuZtJ70K69— 𝚅𝚕𝚊𝚍𝚒𝚖𝚒𝚛 𝙿𝚘𝚒𝚝ī𝚗 (@DocRobotnivik) February 27, 2022
Jegic pointed out that it's interesting to watch this kind of coverage from Western media, considering that Europe has continuously witnessed emerging wars.
Colonialist, white, European-centric journalism, exhibit: 2,398,523— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) February 27, 2022
(Also, hi, remember the war in the former Yugoslavia? The unrest in Ireland? That was all in the 1990s, not that long ago.) https://t.co/oNUf3WIJX1
According to the academic, "We've seen reports of Ukrainians who are taking arms against the Russian forces in Ukraine, and some of the Western media have glorified Ukrainians who have taken arms" against the Russian troops, while at the same time, dehumanizing armed resistance from the Third World - especially from Palestine and Lebanon - and deeming them "terrorists" or "anti-Semitic".
He also considered that such media coverage exposes the "hypocrisy" and the orientalist structures in Western media.
[Thread] The most racist Ukraine coverage on TV News.— Alan MacLeod (@AlanRMacLeod) February 27, 2022
1. The BBC - “It’s very emotional for me because I see European people with blue eyes and blonde hair being killed” - Ukraine’s Deputy Chief Prosecutor, David Sakvarelidze pic.twitter.com/m0LB0m00Wg
White supremacy and dehumanizing non-whites
Jegic linked the ongoing Western coverage to white supremacy, where he warned that the dominant European discourse naturalizes "destruction and military intervention in non-whites places" and "dehumanizes people that are not white.”
'Now the unthinkable has happened to them, and this is not a developing, third world nation, this is Europe.' pic.twitter.com/BFYvql7iie— black lives matter (@jrc1921) February 27, 2022
"So it's not only a double standard but also a continuation of this entire dehumanization and glorification of white 'civilization'," he added.
Where did "free speech" go?
As part of the campaign of sanctions against Russia after its military operation in Ukraine, Google Europe blocked Youtube channels connected to RT and Sputnik across Europe "effective immediately".
"It’ll take time for our systems to fully ramp up. Our teams continue to monitor the situation around the clock to take swift action," a statement by the company read on Twitter.
Due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, we’re blocking YouTube channels connected to RT and Sputnik across Europe, effective immediately. It’ll take time for our systems to fully ramp up. Our teams continue to monitor the situation around the clock to take swift action.— Google Europe (@googleeurope) March 1, 2022
On March 1, the European Union threatened it would ban Russian media outlets RT and Sputnik, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced, accusing the pair of "spreading harmful disinformation."
"We are developing tools to ban toxic and harmful disinformation in Europe," von der Leyen claimed despite the mounting Western propaganda on a wide array of issues all over the world.
According to an email, access to various accounts belonging to Sputnik news agency has been prohibited.
The message says that "according to an order from the government, court or other authority, access to your account has been restricted in this region."
For his part, Meta's Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications Nick Clegg confirmed that the company has limited access to the Russian RT broadcaster and the Sputnik news agency across the EU.
Clegg announced on Twitter, "We have received requests from a number of Governments and the EU to take further steps in relation to Russian state-controlled media. Given the exceptional nature of the current situation, we will be restricting access to RT and Sputnik across the EU at this time."
We have received requests from a number of Governments and the EU to take further steps in relation to Russian state controlled media. Given the exceptional nature of the current situation, we will be restricting access to RT and Sputnik across the EU at this time.— Nick Clegg (@nickclegg) February 28, 2022
In an email to Sputnik, Facebook stated that access to the agency's page had been banned "following a review of a legal request."
The message read, "We carefully review each request against our policies and conduct a legal and human rights assessment. After this review, we may restrict access to the reported content in the locations where it is alleged to be unlawful."
TikTok confirmed as well that it has restricted access to "Russian-backed" accounts, including Sputnik and RT throughout the EU.
Following Meta, Microsoft released an official statement that it would be complying with EU directives to remove RT news app from its "windows store, de-rank Sputnik and RT in Bing results, and remove RT and Sputnik content from MSN and Microsoft Start."
Microsoft claimed that the move is intended "against state-sponsored disinformation campaigns, which have long been commonplace in times of war."
Media and double standards
On this matter, Gretchen King, assistant professor of communication and multimedia journalism at the Lebanese American University, described what we're seeing these days with the so-called free social media as "a lockdown of censorship that fulfills a western agenda for Western allies."
King said, "We see the amplification of the Ukrainian point of view, and that will continue as long as our social media spaces and as long as Western media continue to follow the agendas of Western governments because their media are not free."
She made it clear that people should be "mindful of the social media spaces and recognize that these platforms are not free platforms and are full of censorship."
Moreover, she indicated that social media companies tend to selectively degrade non-West online information and to further censorship tactics that are already there through algorithms that force content down.
King compared the ongoing censorship on Russian media to the Western media coverage and restrictions imposed on Palestinian accounts, especially during the Israeli occupation's latest war on the Gaza Strip in May 2021, stressing that "it's extremely important for people to remember the last war on Palestine that the Western media didn't care until rockets were fired from Gaza."
For instance, Mona Al-Kurd, a Palestinian activist, was one of many live-streaming the ongoing events in Sheikh Jarrah Neighborhood trying to expose the Israeli crimes against Palestinian families.
However, her streaming was cut off suddenly. Later, Al-Kurd posted on her Instagram story explaining that her live-streaming feature was blocked, which exposes Instagram’s complicity and censorship of Palestinian content.
"Instagram is preventing me from going live," Al-Kurd said on her Instagram story, calling on her followers to join in on another activist's account.
Censorship of Palestinian content is not new to some of the giant tech companies. Meta removed and suspended several Palestinian pages and thousands of accounts, including news pages that have been voicing out the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli occupation.
The tech giant mainly targeted Palestinian journalists known for their efforts of covering "Israel's" violations of the human rights of Palestinians and the occupation's crimes against Palestinians.
The irony is that Facebook recently allowed its users to praise and post about the Azov Battalion - a Ukrainian neo-Nazi military unit, which the tech giant banned previously in 2019 under Facebook's Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy along with other groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and ISIS, The Intercept reported.
According to an OHCHR report published in 2016, the Azov Battalion soldiers raped and tortured civilians in 2014 during the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
Assistant Professor Gretchen King noted that "the media coverage that we're seeing is just reinforcing the idea that racial hierarchy and white supremacy is still dominating many of the conflicts that the world sees today."
"People shouldn't be surprised, they should be disgusted. They should demand better and they should also recognize the limits of free speech in the West," King expressed.
"If you follow only Western media, you're doing yourself a disservice," she underscored.