Russia Says It Is Slowing Down Twitter to Protect Citizens From Illegal Content

Alexei Nikolsky | Reuters
  • Russia has announced that it plans to throttle speeds on social media platform Twitter.
  • The nation's communications watchdog said the U.S. firm has failed to remove illegal content from its platform.
  • Companies like Twitter, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are constantly trying to remove inappropriate content from their platforms but they don't always succeed.

Russia has announced that it is imposing restrictions on social media platform Twitter for failing to remove illegal content from its platform.

The Federal Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Communications Oversight Service, also known as Roskomnadzor, announced Wednesday that it is slowing down the speed of Twitter.

The communications watchdog said it was taking the measures to keep Russia's citizens safe and that it could end up blocking the service completely if Twitter doesn't respond accordingly.  

Speeds will be reduced on all mobile devices and 50% of non-mobile devices, such as computers, Roskomnadzor said in a statement on its website.

Roskomnadzor accused Twitter of failing to remove content that encourages minors to commit suicide, as well as child pornography, and drug use.

The regulator said it asked Twitter to remove links and publications more than 28,000 times between 2017 and March 2021. It said that other social networks had been more co-operative than Twitter on removing content that encourages minors to commit suicide.

A Twitter spokesperson told CNBC: "We have a zero-tolerance policy regarding child sexual exploitation, it is against the Twitter Rules to promote, glorify or encourage suicide and self harm, and we do not allow the use of Twitter for any unlawful behavior or to further illegal activities, including the buying and selling of drugs."

They added: "We remain committed to advocating for the Open Internet around the world and are deeply concerned by increased attempts to block and throttle online public conversation."

Russia's move to throttle Twitter follows similar actions by governments in Turkey and India who have also threatened jail time for platform execs.

Matt Navarra, a social media consultant, told CNBC that the "threat of restricting, blocking or banning social media platforms appears to be a growing trend for countries notorious for harsher, less democratic regimes."

Social media platforms are in a constant battle to keep inappropriate content off their platforms. Facebook, TikTok, YouTube and Twitter all use a combination of software and human content moderators to police what gets shared on their platforms but none of them have truly mastered content moderation.

One of the most infamous recent examples was the Christchurch shooter who livestreamed his mass murder onto Facebook and other platforms. The video was quickly cloned and reshared by other users quicker than the content moderators could take it down and it could still be found on Facebook several weeks after the attack happened.

Copyright CNBC
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