- The Washington Times
Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Roskomnadzor, the Russian government‘s internet watchdog, said it would slow access to Twitter starting Wednesday in light of the social media service not scrubbing some content Moscow wants censored.

In a statement, Roskomnadzor warned it could potentially ban Twitter altogether if the platform continues to flout Russian law by ignoring the censorship requests and leaving illegal posts in place.

Roskomnadzor said it has asked Twitter more than 28,000 times since 2017 to remove content that violates Russian law, including posts involving drug use, suicide or child pornography.

Twitter has failed to remove some 3,168 posts from its platform during that span, Roskomnadzor said. Most of those posts — 2,569 — included content inciting minors to commit suicide, the agency said.

“In order to protect Russian citizens and forcing the Internet service to comply,” Roskomnadzor said the agency was enacting “centralized response measures” that included throttling Twitter speeds.

Roskomnadzor said the punitive slowdown of Twitter services would be implemented across Russia on all mobile devices and half of desktop computers.

“If the Twitter online service continues to ignore the requirements of the Law, the measures of influence will continue in accordance with the response regulations (up to blocking) until the calls for suicide by minors, child pornography as well as information about the use of drugs are deleted,” Roskomnadzor said in a Russian language statement.

A spokesperson for Twitter told The Washington Times later Wednesday that the company was aware of reports about its services being “intentionally slowed down broadly and indiscriminately” in Russia.”

“Let us be clear — 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,” said the Twitter spokesperson. “We remain committed to advocating for the Open Internet around the world and deeply concerned by increased attempts to block and throttle online public conversation.”

A number of Russian government websites became inaccessible Wednesday soon after Roskomnadzor said it would disrupt access to Twitter. Russian media reported that Roskomnadzor said it was unrelated.

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