Facebook and Telegram were fined by Russia for not deleting prohibited content

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Russian authorities on Thursday ordered Facebook and messaging app Telegram to pay hefty fines for failing to delete banned content, a move that may be part of the government’s increasing efforts to strengthen control of social media platforms amid political dissent. 17 million rubles (approximately 1.7 million rupees) and Telegram 10 million rubles (approximately 1 million rupees). 

It is not clear what content the platform failed to remove, but the two companies were fined for the second time in recent weeks. On May 25, Facebook was ordered to pay 26 million rubles (approximately 2.6 million rupees) because it did not delete content deemed illegal by the Russian authorities. A month ago, Telegram was also ordered to pay 5 million rubles (about 5 million rupees) because it did not respond to protest calls. Earlier this year, Roskomnadzor, Russia’s national communications regulator, began to slow down Twitter and threatened to ban it. 

Also because of its alleged lack of elimination of illegal content. Officials insisted that the platform did not remove content that encouraged children to commit suicide and contained information about drugs and child pornography. The crackdown came after Russian authorities criticized social media platforms that were used this year to bring tens of thousands of people to the streets of Russia to demand the release of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. 

The wave of demonstrations is a huge challenge for the Kremlin. Officials claim that social media platforms have not eliminated calls for children to join the protests. Putin urged the police to take more actions to monitor social media platforms and track down those who lured children into “illegal and unauthorized street actions”. The Russian government’s efforts to strengthen control over the Internet and social media date back to 2012, when a law was passed that allowed the authorities to blacklist and block certain online content. 

Since then, Russia has introduced more and more restrictions on messaging apps, websites, and social media platforms. The government has repeatedly issued threats to block Facebook and Twitter, but it has not completely banned them, probably because it is worried that this move will provoke too much. Outrage. Only the social network LinkedIn, which is not very popular in Russia, was banned by the authorities for not storing user data in Russia. 

In 2018, Roskomnadzor decided to block Telegram because it refused to hand over the encryption keys used to encrypt messages. But it was unable to completely restrict access to the application, thus destroying hundreds of websites in Russia. Last year, regulators formally withdrew the requirement to restrict the application, and despite the ban, the application continues to be widely used, including government agencies.

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