Russia ‘slows down’ the operation of Twitter and threatens to block it
Russia announced on Wednesday that it was “slowing down” the operation of Twitter, accused of not deleting “illegal” content, a first warning that illustrates the growing tensions between Moscow and the social media giants.
(Can read: Founder of Twitter puts his first tweet on sale)
In recent weeks, the Russian authorities redoubled their criticism of the US companies Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, as well as the Chinese company Tik Tok, denouncing its omnipotence and criticizing its moderation of content, especially political ones.
However, Twitter was not singled out this time for this type of publication but for content considered as child pornography or an apology for drugs or suicide.
“Centralized response measures have been taken against Twitter, specifically by slowing down the speed of the service,” said the internet and media regulator Roskomnadzor, which has the power to block websites or internet resources in Russia.
He then clarified that the slowdown applied to “audio, video and graphic image content“but not to text messages, which make up the bulk of exchanges on Twitter. Roskomnadzor assured that the slowdown” has already begun. “
‘Centralized response measures have been taken against Twitter, specifically by slowing down the speed of the service’
AFP journalists in Russia noted a delay of a few seconds in updating Twitter. The social network did not react immediately. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that although the Russians “they must have the possibility of accessing all global (internet) resources”, they “must respect Russian law“.
The Russian authorities accuse the US company of not eliminating content “that incites the suicide of minors, contains child pornography, as well as information on drug use.” “If Twitter continues to ignore the requirements of the law, responses will continue in accordance with regulations and may even be blocked,” the regulator said.
Moscow has been targeting the main social networks for weeks, accused of having allowed illegal posts in support of jailed opponent Alexei Navalni. In January, calls for demonstrations were broadcast for two days of protests, repressed by the police.
On Monday, Russian diplomacy spokeswoman Maria Zajárova accused the internet giants of “operating outside the legal framework” and of “not often obeying any Russian laws.” The day before, Facebook had blocked articles from the Russian media RBK and TASS about the arrest of suspected Ukrainian “extremists”.
Social media has also blocked accounts of several top Russian officials in the past, such as the head of the space program Dmitry Rogozin, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and businessman Yevgeny Prigózhin. In late January, President Vladimir Putin told the Davos Forum that internet giants “already compete de facto with states,” referring to their “attempts to brutally control society.”
In a country where, unlike traditional media, the internet remains relatively free, many young people are increasingly getting information on platforms such as YouTube.
‘If Twitter continues to ignore the requirements of the law, responses will continue in accordance with the regulations and may even be blocked’
The videos of web stars like Yuri Dud, known for his shocking documentaries, or the anti-corruption investigations of the opponent Alexéi Navalni accumulate tens of millions of visits. In response, in recent years the authorities have tightened the nuts on the “runet”, the Russian internet, in the name of the fight against extremism, terrorism and the protection of minors.
Concepts that do not make sense, according to critics of the Kremlin, who see them as attempts at censorship. For Artiom Kozliouk, director of the Roskomsvoboda digital freedom NGO, the measures directed at Twitter are intended to convince the US giants that “restrict access to content with political connotations or linked to the opposition“.
He also denounced to AFP the “expansion of internet censorship” since 2012. Russia is already blocking several sites of the opposition or that have refused to cooperate with the authorities, such as the professional social network LinkedIn, owned by the American company Microsoft. .
Twitter, Facebook and Google are regularly fined, but the amounts are still paltry compared to their profits. Russian authorities also attacked the popular encrypted messaging service Telegram in 2018 for its refusal to provide security services with the means to read messages from its users.. But after two years of a barely effective blockade, they resigned and lifted the ban.
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