The Tagansky District Court of Moscow fined Meta four million rubles ($52,520) for refusing to remove Instagram posts that promoted "non-traditional sexual values to minors." Helmed by Mark Zuckerberg, Meta is the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.
In a separate hearing, Chinese-owned TikTok was also levied with a two million ruble ($26,260) fine for promoting LGBT propaganda on its platform. Magistrates on the district court ruled that TikTok was guilty of contravening Russia's Gay Propaganda Law, which mandated the removal of LGBT-related materials deemed offensive by Russian authorities.
Prior to the tribunal levying fines on Meta and Tiktok, Russia's state agency for media regulation throttled the speed of social media platform Twitter until May 15. The Roskomnadzor agency said it wants the platform to delete so-called "banned content," including child pornography, suicide and drug abuse under threat of a permanent ban. The state-mandated slowdown had been imposed on Twitter since March, with photos and videos taking a longer time to load.
According to the regulator, Twitter was removing illegal content within 81 hours of receiving a takedown request. However, it added that this is still much longer than the 24 hours mandated by Russian law.
Twitter denied accusations that it is being used for illegal behavior, mentioning its strict policies against child sexual exploitation, suicide and self-harm. It added that it was worried about Moscow's move as it impacts on free speech.
The penalties on the social media platforms followed censorship efforts by Big Tech companies amid the Russia-Ukraine war. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were banning Russian state-sponsored media from their respective platforms. In retaliation, Moscow completely blocked access to Facebook and partially blocked access to Twitter in the country. (Related: 'Russian propaganda' is the latest excuse to expand censorship.)
The Gateway Pundit reported back in March that Big Tech firms censored Russian state-sponsored media outlets on their platforms as the Russia-Ukraine war progressed.
Meta Global Affairs President Nick Clegg tweeted at the time that the company "will be restricting access to Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik across the European Union at this time," in response to "requests from a number of governments and the EU."
Twitter spokeswoman Elizabeth Busby, meanwhile, announced that the social media platform will add warning labels to content coming from RT, Sputnik or other sites affiliated with Russian state media. "Since the [Russia-Ukraine war], we've seen more than 45,000 tweets a day from individuals on Twitter sharing these links. The overwhelming majority of content from state-affiliated media is coming from individuals sharing this content, rather than accounts we've been labeling for years as state-affiliated media," she said.
TikTok followed suit by deleting the accounts of Sputnik and RT on the platform. But prior to this, the Chinese-owned app had previously censored individuals and groups that espoused pro-life views.
In late January 2020, TikTok completely banned the pro-life organization Live Action on its platform over alleged violations of community guidelines. According to Lila Rose, the group's president, the ban stemmed from a video it posted about mothers choosing to spare their babies instead of aborting them.
"Live Action's videos shared baby photos and videos, and highlighted the illogic of the pro-abortion movement. [On the other hand,] TikTok allows pro-abortion accounts and videos to remain on the platform. This is blatant viewpoint discrimination and an egregious attempt to silence pro-life voices," Rose said in a statement.
The Live Action president later confirmed that TikTok reinstated the group's account. The company attributed the ban to "human error" and offered no further details.
TechGiants.news has more about Big Tech's censorship and its repercussions.
Watch this Russian news report below about Big Tech censorship.
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