Russia fines internet giants like Facebook, Google & TikTok a combined $2.6 MILLION for failing to delete banned content

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by Jonny Tickle

So far this year, Russia has fined seven internet giants a combined total of $2.6 million for failure to remove prohibited information, including content that promoted the usage of drugs, the country’s media watchdog has revealed.

In a post on its Telegram channel on Monday, Roskomnadzor outlined the penalties handed down to companies that refuse to abide by the watchdog’s deletion requests.

The websites in question include US-based social networks Facebook ($998,000) and Twitter ($542,000), American search engine Google ($458,000), and Chinese video-sharing app TikTok ($58,000). Russian social media networks Odnoklassniki ($56,000) and VKontakte ($42,000) were also fined, alongside the popular messaging app Telegram ($494,000).

Whenever prohibited content is discovered online, Roskomnadzor files deletion demands. Any company that refuses to comply could be fined or even wholly banned, depending on the circumstances. As well as so-called ‘pro-drug propaganda,’ websites have been punished for refusing to remove other content such as child pornography, extremist materials, and calls for children to join illegal street protests.

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Despite facing further penalties, many of the companies to be fined are yet to pay those already levied against them. Earlier this month, Roskomnadzor threatened to fine Google up to 20% of its annual Russian turnover for failing to pay the $458,000 it owes.

Last year, Russia’s parliament passed a bill that obliged large social networks to actively search for and identify prohibited content rather than waiting for Roskomnadzor’s order. By law, they must now restrict access to child pornography, information about how to commit suicide, drug use, as well as “clear disrespect” for society, the state and the Russian Constitution, and calls for extremism and mass dissent.

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