Last Friday, a Moscow court fined Twitter on the grounds that the Twitter failed to cancel calls to encourage minors to participate in unauthorized gatherings. This is a series of actions taken by the social media giant against Russian dissidents. The latest move in China.
The court ruled that Twitter violated three restrictions on illegal content, convicted Twitter and ordered the company to pay three fines totaling 8.9 million rubles (about 117,000 US dollars).
The ruling was made two weeks after Roskomnadzor, Russia’s state communications monitoring agency, threatened to block Twitter within 30 days (if no measures were taken to delete the banned content).
Roskomnadzor accused Twitter last month of failing to delete content that encourages suicide by children, as well as information about drugs and child pornography. The agency announced on March 10 that it was slowing down the uploading of photos and videos to the platform. In response, Twitter emphasized its zero tolerance policy on child sexual exploitation, suicide and drug sales.
Less than a week later, the deputy director of Roskomnadzor Vadim Subbotin argued that Twitter had still not complied with the requirements of the Russian authorities, adding: “If this situation continues, it will be blocked within a month.”
Russian authorities criticized the social media platform earlier this year because it took thousands of people to the streets across Russia in January, demanding the release of the arrested Russian opposition leader, President Putin’s most famous critic Alek. Xie Navani. The wave of demonstrations was the biggest in many years and posed a major challenge to the Kremlin.
Authorities claim that social media platforms have failed to eliminate calls for children to participate in protests. Putin urged the police to take more action to monitor social platforms and track down those who “baited children into illegal and unauthorized street operations.”
Twitter did not comment on the Moscow court’s ruling on Friday.
The Russian government’s efforts to strengthen its control over the Internet and social media can be traced back to 2012, when a law was passed that allowed the authorities to blacklist and block certain online content. Since then, there have been more and more restrictions on Russian messaging apps, websites and social media platforms.
The government has repeatedly promoted threats to block Facebook and Twitter, but has not completely lifted the ban. It may be worried that this move will arouse too much public outrage. The authorities only ban the social network LinkedIn (not very popular in Russia) because it failed to store its user data in Russia.
However, some experts said that the Russian authorities may be seriously considering the possibility of this ban.