Russia has cracked down on the tech giant Twitter, slowing down access to the social media website. On Wednesday, Russia’s media regulator announced that Twitter access would be restricted to “protect Russian citizens.”

The regulatory authority announced that as a preliminary step, access to the website would be slowed down, but the social media website could be blocked if it refused to comply with directives. 

The slowdown policy would only impact images and videos on the social media platform and would not affect the text. An official from the communications watchdog told Russian news agency Ifax. These measures would stay in place until the platform has removed all the content under complaint.

Why is Russia restricting access to Twitter?

The Federal Service for the Supervision in the Sphere of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) cited the lack of action against “illegal content” as the reason behind the move. The regulator cited 2,569 cases of users inciting minors to commit suicide, 450 cases of child pornography and 149 cases of information on drug use.

The statement indicated that Roskomnadzor had made over 28,000 complaints to Twitter since 2017, including repeated requests to remove illegal links and publications.

The regulator further added that the slowdown policy would impact all mobile devices and half of the non-mobile devices accessing Twitter from Russia. 

What is the dispute between Moscow and Big Tech?

In a bid to restrict access to data to US-based social media companies, Moscow has been increasingly tightening its grip to make them abide by Russian laws.

Last December, the lower house of the Russian Parliament approved two bills that would grant greater power to the state agencies to punish companies such as Facebook and Twitter. The bills granted the regulatory authorities power to fine platforms if they fail to delete banned content and put restrictions in case of “discrimination” against Russian media organizations. In August of last year, Twitter began tagging posts from certain Russian media accounts as “state-affiliated media.”

Interestingly, Twitter has been the platform of choice for the movement led by the imprisoned opposition leader and Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and his allies.


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