Russia Fines Meta, Twitter and TikTok Over ‘Banned Content’

Russian internet © Pavel Ignatov Shutterstock 2012

Campaign against US tech firms in Russia shows no sign of slowing, with string of financial penalties levied against multiple firms

Russia’s campaign against American tech giants continues this week, with a multiple fines imposed on a number of big name firms.

Reuters reported that a Moscow court has fined Facebook owner Meta, Twitter and TikTok for failing to delete content the Russian government deems illegal.

It comes after Russia’s state communications regulator Roskomnadzor filed legal cases against both Google and Meta earlier this month over their respective failures to remove “banned content” from their platforms.

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Russian fines

Roskomnadzor’s case against the two American tech giants could see a Moscow court impose stiff fines, based on their annual turnover in Russia.

Moscow’s Tagansky District Court said on Thursday Meta had been fined a total of 13 million roubles ($176,926) in three separate administrative cases for not deleting content, Reuters reported.

Twitter meanwhile was fined 10 million roubles across two cases, while TikTok received a 4 million rouble penalty, Reuters reported, citing Russian news agencies.

Twitter, Facebook and TikTok had no immediate comment.

Banned content

Russia has passed a number of restrictive laws governing the online world, not least of which was its so called ‘Sovereign Internet’ law that enables Russia to be cut off from the global Internet.

Russia has also demanded that 13 foreign and mostly US technology companies be officially represented on Russian soil by the end of 2021 or face possible restrictions or outright bans.

Russian law allows for foreign companies to be fined between 5 and 10 percent of annual turnover for repeated violations.

And Roskomnadzor has grown increasingly frustrated at what it alleges is a lack of action to remove ‘banned content.

In October it threatened to use Russian bailiffs to enforce the collection of 26 million roubles ($361,400) in fines imposed on Facebook for failing to delete content that Russia deems illegal.

And since March this year, the Russian government has used deep-packet inspection (DPI) technology to slowdown users’ access to Twitter.

Russia says this is a punitive measure for Twitter’s failure to remove posts containing child pornography, drug abuse information or calls for minors to commit suicide.

Russia then extended this Twitter slowdown in March, and it continues to this day.

Twitter for its part denies allowing its platform to be used to promote illegal behaviour.