SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 17 May 2021, Monday | النسخة العربية

Russia extends punitive Twitter slowdown until mid-May

Russia announced on Monday it would extend a punitive slowdown of Twitter until May 15 though it acknowledged the U.S. social media company had accelerated the deletion of banned content.

Russia has traditionally taken a more hands-off role in policing the internet than neighboring China. But as friction has grown this year over the detention and jailing of prominent Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, it has signaled a tougher line.

Moscow has since March slowed down the speed of Twitter for not removing content it considers to be illegal, and threatened to block it entirely. It takes a longer period for some users to load videos and photos.

Nonetheless, in a statement on Monday, state communications watchdog Roskomnadzor pointed out that Twitter had held discussions with Russian authorities on April 1, resulting in an agreement to give it more time and a recognition that banned content was being deleted quicker.

Twitter confirmed the talks with Russia.

“It was a productive discussion about how we can both work to ensure that reports of such illegal content are dealt with expeditiously,” it said in a statement.

Roskomnadzor noted that on average, Twitter was deleting illegal content within 81 hours of receiving a request. That is still much longer than the 24 hours demanded in law.

Russian authorities have accused Twitter and others this year of failing to remove posts that Moscow said illegally called on children to participate in anti-Kremlin demonstrations.

Roskomnadzor says it wants Twitter to remove content that contains drug abuse information, child pornography  and calls for minors to commit suicide.

Twitter denies allowing its platform to be used to promote illegal behavior, says it prohibits the promotion of suicide or self-harm and has a zero-tolerance policy for child sexual exploitation.

After Moscow announced the move to slow down its traffic, Twitter said it was concerned about the impact on free speech.

As well as Russia, major social media companies have been embroiled in a rising number of rows around the globe as governments seek to curb their power.