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Russia to fine social media platforms over youth protests

Russia has threatened social media giants [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 January, 2021

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Russia said it would punish top social media platforms for failing to delete posts calling for minors to join protests in support of Alexei Navalny

Russia said Wednesday it would punish top social media platforms for failing to delete posts calling for minors to join unsanctioned protests in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

Ahead of the rallies that took place across the country on Saturday, social media platforms including TikTok, which is popular among teenagers, were flooded with thousands of posts calling for Russians to demonstrate.

In response, Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor warned the platforms they would face fines for failing to delete such posts and said that several had removed a significant number.

But on Wednesday the watchdog deemed they had not done enough and said platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube, would be fined "for failure to comply with the requirements to suppress the spread of calls to minors to participate in unauthorised rallies".

"Despite the request of the prosecutor general's office and the notification from Roskomnadzor, these internet platforms did not remove in time a total of 170 illegal appeals," Roskomnadzor said in a statement.

It added that the fines would range from 800,000 rubles ($10,520) to 4 million rubles ($52,760).

Protests in Russia are banned if they are not approved by the authorities, as are calls for people under 18 to join demonstrations.

Also on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin complained about the growing influence of large technology companies, which he said are "competing" with states.

Hashtags dedicated to Navalny have been trending on TikTok, where they have garnered more than 1.5 billion views, after the anti-corruption crusader was jailed on his return to Russia from Germany.

His allies have called for a new round of demonstrations this Sunday.

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