Russia has vowed to ban Twitter within 30 days unless it takes action to delete 'banned content' as described by the government. The ban will go into effect until Twitter eliminates the content, which included child porn and material on child suicide and drugs, according to Vadim Subbotin, deputy head of watchdog Roskomnadzor.
Russia threatens to ban Twitter in a month
However, analysts claim that the crackdown is simply an excuse to prevent Putin's political rivals from holding protests, as they did earlier this year in some cities. Subbotin's threat came only a day after Alexei Navalny, Putin's most outspoken opponent, shared his first update from behind bars, posting a snapshot of himself with a shaved head.
"Twitter isn't responding to our questions as easily as it should be. Without a court order, it will be blocked in a month if the situation continues," Subbotin said. It comes a week after Subbotin said Twitter's internet speed would be slowed until the offending content was deleted, as per Daily Mail.
In the meantime, Twitter is being sued in Russia for reportedly failing to censor content urging children to engage in anti-Putin demonstrations. Despite Russian legislation expressly prohibiting children from joining marches, Twitter expressed concern about the effect on free expression at the time.
Russia has also lambasted social media platforms for censoring state-controlled media outlets like RT, which have been labeled as propaganda outlets by international governments. Putin personally accused social media giants of 'controlling democracy' and 'restricting the freedom to openly share opinions in January. Twitter is used by about 9 million Russians or around 8 percent of the country's overall population, but it is the preferred method of contact for Putin's opponents, such as Navalny.
According to the agency, Twitter has refused to delete more than 3,000 posts containing prohibited content, including more than 2,500 posts urging minors to commit suicide. The network reacted by stressing its zero-tolerance stance for child sexual harassment, suicide prevention, and drug sales. On Tuesday, Subbotin said that Twitter was still not compliant with Russian authorities' demands, the Independent reported.
Russia threatened to block several social media giants
The government has threatened to censor the two social media giants several times but has refrained from enacting outright bans even though the legislation permits it, presumably due to public outrage. LinkedIn, which was not especially common in Russia, has been banned by the authorities for failing to store user data.
However, some analysts have speculated that the authorities might seriously debate bans this time around, as per USA Today. Subbotin stated that Roskomnadzor has the "technical capabilities" to block Twitter and that the agency is not ruling out the possibility of slowing or banning other online outlets that "violate Russian laws and refuse to cooperate with Roskomnadzor's demands."