Russia Fines Facebook $235,000 Over ‘Illegal Content’

A Russian court on Thursday slapped Facebook and Telegram with fines, over their failure to remove ‘banned content.’

Facebook has been fined a total of 17 million rubles ($235m), while Telegram has been fined 10m rubles ($139m) by the Moscow court.

The fine against Facebook is somewhat ironic, considering that last month Facebook publicly named and shamed Russia for continuing to be the biggest peddler of disinformation on its platform.

Russian clampdown

It should be noted that these fines are the second such fines for both parties.

Last month Facebook was fined 26 million rubles ($360,000) for not taking down posts that Russian authorities had deemed “illegal”.

Telegram was also ordered to pay 5 million rubles ($69,000) for not removing calls to take part in protests from the messaging app.

And it is not just Facebook and Telegram that has been targetted by Russia’s media watchdog Roskomnadzor, which is seeking to impose its orders on foreign tech platforms.

Roskomnadzor recently threatened Google with a slowdown of its services in Russia, over allegations that it had failed to delete what Russia calls ‘unlawful content.’

Google was also accused of restricting YouTube access to Russian media outlets, such as RT and Sputnik, and supporting “illegal protest activity.”

It should be remembered that Russia has carried out a similar slowdown threat, against another US-based tech firm, namely Twitter.

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

Russia then extended this Twitter slowdown until mid-May.

Sovereign Internet

Last November Russia’s parliament even presented draft legislation that, if passed, would enable the Russian government to restrict internet access to American social networking giants deemed to have discriminated against Russian media outlets.

Russia it should be remembered has already 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.

But some US tech firms are firming up against Russian overreach.

In September last year, Twitter expanded its labelling of accounts belonging to several Russian media outlets with the description “state-affiliated media”, along with those of their senior staff and some key government officials, much to the ire of Russian officials.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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