03/11/2021, 11.27
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Russia restricts Twitter, Facebook also at risk

by Vladimir Rozanskij

The network accused by the cyber surveillance agency of failing to fulfil 2,500 of the 28,000 requests for deletion of content relating to suicide incitement among adolescents, child abuse images and information on the use of narcotics.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - March 10 Russian authorities decided to limit the activity of the social media platform Twitter, accusing it of numerous infringements and of not deleting prohibited information. The Twitter network is being subjected to slowdowns, applied under norms governing the "Sovereign Runet", the Russian variant of the internet.

The Russian cyber surveillance agency, Roskomnadzor, justified its charges against Twitter and communicated the blocking measures, which were extended to all mobile devices and 50% of stationary ones, due to the non-compliance of to meet the demands of the Russian authorities.

The measure adopted resulted in a general blocks on access to all state sites, from the Kremlin to the government and parliament, which were reactivated in fits and starts during the day. The problems arose from the use of "channellers" to block Twitter, as explained by the Ministry of Finance.

The technologies activated allow authorities to slow down or prevent the loading of photo and video content, without limiting written texts, with the declared intention of "minimizing setbacks for Twitter users". This is the first time that these decisions, which have been repeatedly threatened, have been applied in Russia.

Since 2017, the authorities have sent over 28,000 requests for content deletion to the Twitter network. As of March 10, 2021, over 2,500 of these requests remain unanswered, including suicide incitement among adolescents, images of sexual abuse of children and information on the use of narcotics. If Twitter continues to ignore Roskomnadzor’s requests, its application could be totally blocked in Russia, the agency’s executives said.

In addition to many ordinary internet users, the complaints lodged by many companies that use Twitter for work matters, such as banks, have stood out, which have had serious problems in sending wire transfers and in other services, given that Twitter also serves as a financial market source.

Even the Facebook network has been defined as "the next candidate" for reduction of traffic in Russia, as Antonij Gorelkin, a member of the parliamentary committee on information policy, told Interfax. He noted that Facebook, unlike Twitter, "at least occasionally tries to explain something, in response to the demands of the Roskomnadzor," but still persists in retaining information that contradicts Russian laws.

Gorelkin adds: "Twitter does not take down anything under the guise of politics, and for this reason it keeps accounts linked to the drug and child abuse mafia, refusing to give explanations of the criteria with which it works and even ignoring, in a demonstrative way, the miserable fines that are imposed".

Gorelkin assures that "our authorities are objective and very patient, and intend to regulate these problems with rigorous legal mechanisms". The slowdown in activity greatly affects Twitter's advertising traffic, leading its customers to choose other platforms; "Twitter will lose a lot of customers, because the Russian segment of internet advertising is highly competitive," the deputy added.

The war on social media platforms, coupled with the ongoing cyber warfare against Americans and Chinese, could lead Russia to global cyber isolation, similar to the condition of North Korea. The US president, Joe Biden, said that the biblical principle "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" will be applied to Russia in the field of information technology, as reported by the New York Times last March 7.

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