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Russia fines Google, Meta for failing to delete ‘illegal’ content

This is the largest fine Russia has imposed on a social media giant

russiaflagf Russian flag | Reuters

It was a day of fines for American tech companies in Russia: Google was slapped with a 7.2 billion rouble ($98 million) penalty why Facebook parent Meta was hit with a two billion rouble (27.16 million) penalty.

This is not the first time Moscow has fined American social media companies, but it is the largest amount it has levied thus far.

"For the first time, a Russian court has imposed fines that make up a share of the annual revenue of these companies in Russia," Russia's state communications regulator Roskomnadzor said in a statement.

The fine was for repeated failure to delete illegal content. The regulator said Google and Meta had ignored “multiple demands” to remove materials that “incite religious hatred and promote views of "extremist and terrorist organisations”.

Russia has repeatedly found grounds to censure social media companies in terms of what they allow on their platforms. Earlier this year, a “slowdown” of Twitter was ordered after the company too failed to delete illegal content on drugs, incitement to suicide and child abuse materials.

In July, President Vladimir Putin signed a law that would force social media companies to open local offices in Russia. The law applies to internet giants that have a daily audience in Russia of at least 500,000 people.

In 2019, Russia enacted a law that made it illegal to insult government officials using vulgar language.

Moscow has sought to create a parallel Russian internet that could be disconnected from the main internet. In 2019, it tested its alternative closed system, which is basically an address book for Russian domains.

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