MOSCOW – Russian officials said Monday they will continue to slow down Twitter until mid-May but will no longer block social media platforms as they begin removing banned content quickly.
The announcement addresses the recent standoff between the Russian government and the platform, which has played a role in strengthening Russia’s dissent.
Russia’s state communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor, last month accused Twitter of failing to remove child-promoting material, as well as information on drugs and child pornography. The agency announced on March 10 that it was slowing down the pace at which photos and videos were uploaded to the platform and threatened less than a week later if it did not comply. It will be blocked within a month.
In response to the allegations, Twitter has emphasized its zero-tolerance policy on child sexual abuse, promoting suicide and drug sales.
Roskomnadzor said in a statement Monday that it had not decided to block social media platforms, “considering the decision by Twitter to change the principles and pace of its own restraint service in Russia for the first time and Account deletion part of the prohibited content. “
The agency said Twitter had removed about 1,900 of the 3,100 posts with child pornography and information on drugs and suicide. The platform has increased the speed at which banned content is removed, according to Roskomnadzor- currently, it takes 81 hours to do so. However, Russian law requires that prohibited content removes from social media within 24 hours of being notified.
In light of these developments, Roskomnadzor will continue to slow down Twitter until May 15, giving it extra time under Russian law to “remove all prohibited content and make it fully operational.”
Russian authorities criticized social media platforms for taking thousands of people to the country’s streets earlier this year in January, demanding the release of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who President Vladimir Putin is holding. The most famous critic of The protests was the largest in years and posed a significant challenge to the Kremlin.
Authorities have accused the social media platform of failing to remove calls from children to join the protests. Putin has called on police to monitor social media platforms and do more to watch children for “illegal and unauthorized street activities.”
The Russian government’s efforts to tighten control over the Internet and social media began in 2012 when laws were passed allowing officials to post and block certain online content. Since then, Russia has banned a growing number of targeting messaging apps, websites, and social media platforms.
The government has repeatedly threatened to block Facebook and Twitter but immediately lifted the ban – fearing it could provoke public outrage. Only the social network LinkedIn, which is not very popular in Russia, has been banned by the authorities for failing to store user data in Russia.