Russia fines Facebook and Twitter for failing to delete content

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FILE PHOTO: Facebook app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration
FILE PHOTO: Facebook app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken, July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

July 22, 2021

By Maria Vasilyeva and Alexander Marrow

MOSCOW (Reuters) -A Russian court fined U.S. social media firms Facebook and Twitter on Thursday for failing to delete illegal content, the latest salvo in a standoff between Russia and Big Tech.

Russian authorities have taken steps in recent months to regulate technology giants more closely by imposing small fines for content violations, while also seeking to force foreign companies to open offices in Russia and store Russians’ personal data on its territory.

Moscow’s Tagansky District Court said it had fined Facebook a total of 6 million roubles ($81,320) for two different administrative offences related to stipulations that website owners delete banned information or face penalties.

The court fined Twitter a combined 5.5 million roubles for two offences. Messaging app Telegram was also ordered to pay a total of 11 million roubles for three offences, the court said.

Facebook, Twitter and Telegram did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Other countries have called upon social media firms to do more to police content. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met representatives of platforms last week and warned that they would face fines amounting to 10% of their global revenues unless they removed hateful and racist content.

Twitter has been subjected to a punitive slowdown in Russia since March for posts containing child pornography, drug abuse information or calls for minors to commit suicide, state communications regulator Roskomnadzor has said.

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

($1 = 73.7800 roubles)

(Additional reporting by Maxim Rodionov and Andrey Ostroukh; editing by Andrew Osborn and Pravin Char)