Russia says it will impose restrictions on Twitter

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Russia said on Wednesday it will impose restrictions on Twitter for failing to remove illegal content from its platform.

Russia’s communication watch dog, Roskomnadzor, said it will slow down the speed of the social media giant, a decision it said has become necessary to keep Russian citizens safe, adding that it could end up blocking Twitter completely if it doesn’t comply.

“Due to the fact that the Twitter online service in the period from 2017 to the present does not remove content that incites minors to commit suicide, containing child pornography, as well as information about the use of drugs, Roskomnadzor sent over 28 thousand initial and repeated requests on the removal of illegal links and publications”, the communication watchdog wrote on its website.

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“As of March 10, 2021, 3168 materials with prohibited information (including 2569 with calls to commit suicide by minors, 450 with child pornography, 149 with information on drug use) remain not deleted.”

“The slowing down will be applied to 100% of mobile devices and on 50% of non-mobile devices,” the regulator said.

“If (Twitter) continues to ignore the requirements of the law, the enforcement measures will be continued… (right up to blocking it),” the regulator said.

Twitter responded stating that it is worried about the impact on free speech of the Russian action. It denied the allegation that it allowed its platform to be used to promote illegal behavior.

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A Twitter spokesperson told CNBC: “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 behavior or to further illegal activities, including the buying and selling of drugs.”

They added: “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.”

Russia’s move to bring Twitter under control follows similar actions by India and Turkey who have also threatened to jail platform executives if they do not comply.

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Social media platforms are in a constant battle to keep inappropriate content off their platforms.  Facebook, TikTok, YouTube and Twitter all use a combination of human content moderators and artificial intelligence algorithms to censor users posts on the platform but none of the methods seems to have fully achieved the desired result

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