Russia Slows Twitter, Won’t Block Platform Yet
PARIS, FRANCE - DECEMBER 26: In this photo illustration, the microblogging social network Twitter logo is displayed on the screen of a smartphone on December 26, 2019 in Paris, France. A cybersecurity specialist has successfully downloaded lists of phone numbers using the contact upload feature on Twitter. No less than 2 billion telephone numbers have been recovered. The hacker then linked the numbers to user accounts, ultimately obtaining 17 million matches. For two months, his efforts allowed him to obtain information on people in Israel, Turkey, Iran, Greece, Armenia, France and Germany. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)
Chesnot/Getty Images

On Monday, officials in Russia said that they will keep slowing down Twitter until the middle of next month, but they will not entirely block it due to the fact that the platform is removing content they have deemed harmful.

The Russian government and Twitter have been at odds for the past few months as Russia accused Twitter of not taking down pornographic, harmful, or illegal content.

On March 10, Russia slowed down access to the social media platform, alleging that it was trying to protect Russian citizens because of the content that was not being removed.

The Daily Wire reported at the time:

On Wednesday, Russia slowed down Twitter access in an alleged attempt to protect its citizens, stating that the social media tool has not removed content that is illegal, pornographic, or harmful. The move raised concerns among many who see it as the latest limitation on freedom of expression by the Kremlin.

The telecommunications regulator for the country, Roskomnadzor, said in a statement that it would be limiting how fast the social media network loaded for users in the country, and The New York Times confirmed that images and videos did take longer than usual to load.

Roskomnadzor accused Twitter of keeping content on its site that encourages minors to commit suicide, includes child pornography, and also contains facts about using drugs. The regulator claimed that it has repeatedly petitioned Twitter to take down illegal content.

“With the aim of protecting Russian citizens and forcing the internet service to follow the law on the territory of the Russian Federation, centralized reactive measures have been taken against Twitter starting March 10, 2021 — specifically, the initial throttling of the service’s speeds, in accordance with the regulations,” the statement said.

“If the internet service Twitter continues to ignore the demands of the law, measures against it will continue in accordance with the regulations, up to and including blocking it,” it added. 

Twitter has responded to the allegations made by the Russian government by drawing attention to its zero tolerance policy for child sexual exploitation, the promotion of suicide, and selling of drugs, The Associated Press reported.

In a statement on Monday, Roskomnadzor said that it had made the decision not to block Twitter, “taking into account the decision made by Twitter for the first time to change the principles and speed of its own moderation service in Russia, and the removal of a significant part of the prohibited content,” the AP reported.

The regulator said that the social media platform has removed about 1,900 of 3,100 posts that have information about suicide and drugs, and include child pornography. According to Roskomnadzor, Twitter has also sped up its process of deleting content that is banned. At this time, the platform removes the forbidden content in 81 hours. Laws in Russia, however, demand that banned content be removed within 24 hours of social media being informed about it.

Roskomnadzor plans to keep slowing down Twitter until May 15, providing it with “additional time to remove all prohibited content … and bring its operations into full compliance” with Russian law, per the AP.

The Daily Wire reported that the social media site has been used by Putin’s critics as a way to gather and protest against the Kremlin, which controls the television media.

“President Vladimir Putin’s main critic and opposition leader Alexei A. Navalny used social media earlier this year to speak out against Putin, and Navalny’s followers have used the platforms in order to organize protests,” the outlet reported.

Russian officials have only entirely forbidden one social media outlet — LinkedIn — “for the failure to store its user data in Russia,” the AP reported.

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