Russian authorities on Thursday ordered Facebook and the messaging app Telegram to pay steep fines for failing to take away banned content material, a transfer that may very well be a part of rising authorities efforts to tighten management over social media platforms amid political dissent.
A Moscow courtroom fined Facebook a complete of RUB 17 million (roughly Rs. 1.7 crores) and Telegram RUB 10 million (roughly Rs. 1 crore). It wasn’t instantly clear what sort of content material the platforms didn’t take down.
It was the second time each corporations have been fined in current weeks. On May 25, Facebook was ordered to pay RUB 26 million (roughly Rs. 2.6 crores) for not taking down content material deemed illegal by the Russian authorities. A month in the past, Telegram was additionally ordered to pay RUB 5 million (roughly Rs. 50 lakhs) for not taking down calls to protest.
Earlier this yr, Russia’s state communications watchdog Roskomnadzor began slowing down Twitter and threatened it with a ban, additionally over its alleged failure to take down illegal content material. Officials maintained the platform didn’t take away content material encouraging suicide amongst kids and containing details about medication and little one pornography.
The crackdown unfolded after Russian authorities criticised social media platforms which were used to carry tens of 1000’s of individuals into the streets throughout Russia this yr to demand the discharge of jailed Russian opposition chief Alexei Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s most well-known critic. The wave of demonstrations has been a significant problem to the Kremlin.
Officials alleged that social media platforms didn’t take away calls for kids to hitch the protests. Putin has urged police to behave extra to observe social media platforms and to trace down those that draw kids into “illegal and unsanctioned street actions.”
The Russian authorities’s efforts to tighten management of the Internet and social media date again to 2012, when a regulation permitting authorities to blacklist and block sure on-line content material was adopted. Since then, a rising variety of restrictions concentrating on messaging apps, web sites and social media platforms have been launched in Russia.
The authorities has repeatedly aired threats to dam Facebook and Twitter, however stopped in need of outright bans — most likely fearing the transfer would elicit an excessive amount of public outrage. Only the social community LinkedIn, which wasn’t extremely popular in Russia, has been banned by authorities for its failure to retailer consumer knowledge in Russia.
In 2018, Roskomnadzor moved to dam Telegram over its refusal at hand over encryption keys used to scramble messages, however failed to totally limit entry to the app, disrupting a whole lot of internet sites in Russia as a substitute. Last yr, the watchdog formally withdrew the calls for to limit the app, which continued to be extensively used regardless of the ban, together with by authorities establishments.