Russia Announces Twitter Slowdown to Continue Until Alleged Illegal Content is Removed

Russian officials backed down from threats to block Twitter on Monday, saying the social media site erased the majority of the unlawful information identified by Moscow and shown “readiness and desire in creating a constructive discussion.”

While Russia’s official communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor, said that it will not ban Twitter, it will throttle traffic to the social network, ending the most recent standoff between the Russian government and the social network that has played a role in amplifying opposition in Russia.

Roskomnadzor accused Twitter two months ago of failing to delete content advocating child suicide, as well as information on drugs and child pornography. 

The agency said on March 10 that it was slowing down the pace of posting photographs and videos to the site, both on computers and mobile devices, and threatened to prohibit it less than a week later if it did not comply with the requests.

In response to the allegations, Twitter reiterated its zero-tolerance stance for child sexual exploitation, suicide advocacy, and drug sales.

According to an online statement issued by Roskomnadzor on Monday, Twitter has removed 91 percent of prohibited content, with only 563 posts containing child pornography, information about drugs, and suicide, calls for minors to participate in protests, and extremist materials remaining available out of approximately 5,900.

Authorities said that social media firms failed to delete requests for youngsters to participate in the protests. Putin has asked police to increase their efforts to monitor social media platforms and chase down people who recruit minors for “illegal and unsanctioned street demonstrations.”

The Russian government’s efforts to tighten control over the internet and social media stretch back to 2012 when legislation was passed authorizing authorities to blacklist and restrict certain online content. Since then, Russia has imposed an increasing number of limitations on messaging applications, websites, and social media platforms.

The government has regularly threatened to restrict Facebook and Twitter, but has refrained from outright prohibitions, presumably due to popular uproar. Only LinkedIn, a social network that was not very popular in Russia, has been barred by authorities for failing to retain user data in Russia.


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