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Russia to slow down Twitter for not removing tweets

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On Wednesday, the Russian internet regulator Roskomnadzor announced that access to Twitter will be slowed down in the country following what it says is the company’s inaction in taking down content inciting minors to self-harm or commit suicide. In a notice published on its website, the regulator said (machine translation follows): “As of 10 March 2021, 3,168 materials with prohibited information (including 2,569 calls for suicide by minors, 450 with child pornography, 149 with information on drug use) remain [to be] deleted.”

MediaNama reviewed some transparency filings by Twitter on Russian legal requests, and it appears that Twitter has actually been acting on legal requests from the country with some regularity. However, it seems that the content that Twitter is choosing not to take down has irked the Russian government. It’s not clear what the content that Twitter has not taken down looks like, as the company only makes transparency filings for content it ends up taking down. Twitter recently got into a legal tussle with the Indian government after it refused to block certain accounts and tweets as it violated their user’s right to  free expression.

In a statement, Twitter said:

We are aware of reports that Twitter is being intentionally slowed down broadly and indiscriminately in Russia due to apparent content removal concerns. Let us be clear – we have a zero-tolerance policy regarding child sexual exploitation, it is against the Twitter Rules to promote, glorify or encourage suicide and self harm, and we do not allow the use of Twitter for any unlawful behaviour or to further illegal activities, including the buying and selling of drugs. We remain committed to advocating for the Open Internet around the world and are deeply concerned by increased attempts to block and throttle online public conversation. — Twitter Spokesperson

Twitter is not a dominant social media platform in Russia, and has only around 9 million users in the country of 144 million people.

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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