Russia Regulators Fine Twitter 10 Million Roubles for Allegedly Failing to Delete Banned Content

By Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts
Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.
December 23, 2021 Updated: December 23, 2021

A Moscow court on Thursday said it had fined Twitter 3 million roubles ($136,000) for allegedly failing to delete content banned by the Russian government, the latest in a string of penalties issued against U.S. tech companies this year.

The press service of the Tagansky District Court confirmed the penalty to the Russian state-owned news agency TASS.

“The magistrate court department No. 422 of a Justice of the Peace court found Twitter guilty on two protocols complied under Part 2 and Part 4 of Art. 13.41 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation (violation of the procedure for restricting access to information, access to which is subject to restriction under the legislation of the Russian Federation) and imposed a fine totaling 10 mln rubles—3 mln and 7 mln rubles, respectively,” the press service said.

The court later said San Francisco-based software development website GitHub, which Microsoft purchased, had been fined 1 million roubles for the same offense, Reuters reported.

The Epoch Times has contacted GitHub for comment.

It comes as Russian regulators continue to put pressure on Silicon Valley-headquartered tech companies this year to remove content from their platforms, typically imposing threats of large fines. Critics have condemned the move by Russian authorities, calling it an attempt to exert tighter control over the internet and suppress both individual and corporate freedoms.

A string of laws and regulations introduced by Russia between 2018 and 2019 expanded authorities’ ability to filter and internet content automatically, according to Human Rights Watch. Authorities deem everything from calls for youth participation in unsanctioned protests to exaggerating the number of protesters at such events as illegal content. 

In March, President Vladimir Putin said in a speech that, “the internet has already penetrated into all spheres of our lives” and that “society will collapse from the inside” unless the internet obeyed “not just the laws of formal, legal rules, but also the moral laws of the society in which we live.”

Moscow has accused Twitter of repeatedly failing to delete banned content on its site and has slowed down the speed of Twitter since March as a punitive measure for not removing the content. Twitter denies allowing its platform to be used to promote illegal behavior.

The latest fine brings the total amount of fines imposed on Twitter to 55 million rubles ($748,000), TASS reports.

The Epoch Times has contacted Twitter for comment.

According to Deputy Head of the Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media Vadim Subbotin, Google, Facebook, and Twitter have failed to remove around 5,500 files with banned information, and are facing a combined fine of over 140 million rubles ($1.9 million).

Earlier this month, Russia fined Facebook-owner Meta platforms 13 million roubles ($177,000), for failing to delete content the government deems illegal.

In November, it fined Alphabet Inc.’s Google 3 million roubles ($400,386) for the same reason amid an ongoing dispute between Russia and the U.S. tech giant. Google previously said it had paid Russia more than 32 million roubles in fines.

Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.