Russia Disrupts Twitter Load Speeds in Banned Content Row

Russia’s media watchdog has announced Wednesday first steps to throttle Twitter for failing to remove banned content by intentionally disrupting the platform’s speed within the country.

“Starting March 10, 2021, centralized response measures have been taken against Twitter to protect Russian citizens and force the internet service to comply with Russian legislation,” Roskomnadzor said Wednesday.

Roskomnadzor said it slowed down Twitter on all Russian cellphones and half of its desktops.

The social media giant faced heavy fines for not removing 3,000 posts containing information about suicide, child pornography and drugs since 2017, Roskomnadzor said last week.

It was not clear if the slowdown took immediate effect, but the Russian edition of the outage monitoring website Downdetector notes that Twitter users “could currently experience problems.”

Roskomnadzor said it “added the spread of information on Twitter to its list of threats” and warned that it could block the platform if it “continues to ignore legal requirements.”

The latest measure comes amid growing tensions with western social media platforms over what Russia calls censorship and bias against its state-affiliated accounts.

President Vladimir Putin last month raised fines for social media giants accused of “discriminating” against Russian media. On New Year’s Eve, he granted Roskomnadzor the power to block social media platforms if they are found to “discriminate” against Russian media.

Putin accused social media giants in a January videolink at the World Economic Forum in Davos of “controlling society” and “restricting the right to freely express viewpoints.”

A Moscow court is scheduled to hear cases against Twitter, Facebook, Google, TikTok and the Telegram messaging app next month over failure to remove calls for protests that swept the country earlier this year.

Russia ranked “not free” with a 30/100 score on U.S. watchdog Freedom House’s 2020 Freedom on the Net report, with the country’s “sovereign internet” law, prosecutions of activists for online activity and restrictions on encrypted communications cited as factors harming its score.

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