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Russia imposes new fines on social media for failing to remove content

Russia has imposed further fines on Facebook, Twitter and Telegram for failing to remove banned content.

The three social networks were all sanctioned by the Russian courts on Tuesday, a few days before the country’s legislative elections.

The Moscow court fined US giants Facebook and Twitter 21 million and 5 million rubles (€ 244,000 and € 58,000 respectively).

Meanwhile, the Russian-founded messaging service Telegram was fined nine million rubles (€ 104,000).

While the exact details of the case have not been spelled out, major tech companies have previously been cited for failing to remove online posts promoting drugs, pornography or suicide.

In March, Twitter’s speed was slowed in Russia due to its failure to comply with requests to remove illegal posts.

The fines represent the latest tensions between the Kremlin and major foreign social networks in recent months.

Moscow has accused social networks of not moderating their content properly and in some cases interfering in Russian affairs by refusing to remove opposition posts from the Kremlin.

Earlier this year, Russia also fined companies for failing to remove messages encouraging young people to come together in support of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Last week, the country’s state communications regulator blocked Navalny’s “Smart Voting” website and urged Google and Apple to remove the app from their stores as well.

Navalny, who is serving two and a half years in prison, has sued the regulator and the prosecutor’s office over the decision.

Russian President Vladimir Putin assured Moscow would not block foreign social networks but warned companies that they must strictly adhere to the country’s laws.

In December, the Russian parliament approved a bill that allows the country to restrict access to U.S. social media companies if they are deemed to discriminate against Russian media.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov this week acknowledged the risks of foreign interference in this week’s elections.

Last Friday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry summoned U.S. Ambassador John Sullivan for alleged interference by U.S. tech giants in the country’s internal affairs.

Sullivan was received by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Riabkov, who assured him that Moscow “has irrefutable proof that the American digital giants violate Russian law”.


euronews Gt