Russia increases pressure on Twitter, Google and Facebook in online crackdown

Anastasiia Zlobina, a Human Rights Watch researcher who focuses on Russian internet censorship, said the government crackdown threatened the future of US internet services in the country. A turning point, he said, was when YouTube, Facebook and Twitter were used during protests in support of opposition leader Alexei A. Navalny after his arrest in January. The demonstrations were the largest displays of dissent against Putin in years.

“This mobilization was happening online,” Ms. Zlobina said.

The Russian government has portrayed the tech industry as part of a foreign campaign to meddle in internal affairs. Authorities have accused the companies of blocking pro-Kremlin online accounts while pushing the opposition, saying the platforms were also havens for the sale of drugs and child pornography.

Twitter became the first major test of Russia’s censorship technology in March, when access to its service slowed, according to researchers at the University of Michigan.

To resolve the conflict, a Twitter executive met at least twice with Russian officials, according to the company and Roskomnadzor. The government, which had threatened to ban Twitter altogether, said the company had finally complied with 91 percent of its takedown requests.

Other Internet companies have also been affected. Last month, TikTok, the popular social media platform owned by Chinese company ByteDance, was fined 2.6 million rubles, or around $ 35,000, for failing to remove posts that were seen as encouraging minors to participate in. illegal demonstrations. TikTok did not respond to a request for comment.

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