Russia’s social media and media regulator has confirmed that Twitter’s slowdown in the country will last until May. Moscow has accused the social network of not removing content that the country considers illegal from its platform, and has threatened to block Twitter from all Russian users.
Last October, the country’s government announced for the first time that Twitter would be slowed down by failing to remove content on drugs, incitement to suicide and child pornography. Some content that, according to the Kremlin, Twitter has been facilitating its dissemination since 2017.
Violation of the laws of the country
Since then, users of social networks in Russia have repeatedly complained of encountering many difficulties in uploading photos and videos to Twitter. However, in a statement published just a few weeks ago, Russia’s internet watchdog acknowledged that Twitter had started to remove banned posts and said they were not considering blocking the platform, at least for now.
However, the same government authority did say that “the limitation of Twitter traffic ” would last until May 15, 2021, until the social network has removed all the content that the Kremlin considers illegal. “Twitter has much additional time to remove all prohibited content from the social network and make its activities fully comply with the laws of our country,” the watchdog said in a press release.
The announcement came after a video conference between officials from the Russian regulatory body and Sinead McSweeney, Twitter’s vice president for public policy in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “After the adoption of some measures, the social network has withdrawn about 1,900 of the 3,100 publications that directly violate our laws,” acknowledged the control body.
On average, Twitter was allegedly removing illegal content within 81 hours of receiving the request from the Russian government, a time that far exceeds the 24 hours required by the country’s laws. Twitter has repeatedly reiterated that it has a “zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation of children” and prohibits the promotion of suicide or self-harm, but these statements are insufficient for the Russian administration, which demands much more effort.
The platform has also expressed concern about slowing down its upload speed on Russian soil , describing it as an attempt to “strangle public debate online.” However, Twitter is not the only social network that issues similar complaints. Russian authorities have also accused other big tech companies of failing to remove posts that Moscow said illegally urged children to take part in anti-Kremlin protests.
A few weeks ago, a Moscow court fined Twitter 8.9 million rubles (about 99,000 euros) for failing to suppress popular dissent over the arrest of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.