Russia Cracks Down On Twitter

A pox on them both.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Henry Kissinger once said about the Iran-Iraq War, “It’s a pity they both can’t lose.” Such as it is with Russia and Twitter. Russia is an authoritarian second rate power trying to play with the majors. Twitter is an authoritarian private company that wraps itself in the flag of  civil liberties while regularly censoring content in disagrees with. You’d think, given their mutual thuggish attitudes towards free speech, they’d get along.

FNC: “Russian authorities said Wednesday they are slowing down the speed of uploading photos and videos to Twitter over its failure to remove banned content — part of growing efforts to curb social media platforms that have played a major role in amplifying dissent…The state communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor, said it began the slowdown after it said Twitter failed to remove content encouraging suicide among children and containing information about drugs and child pornography. Twitter responded by emphasizing its policy of zero tolerance for child sexual exploitation, promotion of suicide and drug sales. The Russian watchdog warned that if Twitter refuses to abide by Russian law, it could be blocked entirely, but it voiced hope the platform would ‘take a constructive stance’ and comply with removing the banned content. Vadim Subbotin, deputy chief of Roskomnadzor, said in televised remarks that Twitter is the only social platform that has ‘openly ignored the Russian authorities’ demand to remove the banned content.’ ”

Roskomnadzor said in a statement that Twitter “has failed to remove more than 3,000 posts with the banned content, including more than 2,500 posts encouraging suicide among minors.” Russian culture is much more socially conservative than American culture. Thus their commitment to what we consider free speech is rather flexible. If the charge is true, which is an open question, then it is not surprising the Russians took this move. More likely, they are using this as a stalking horse to slow down Twitter over political matters.

Twitter said in a statement that “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.” Well, Twitter’s commitment to the truth is also rather elastic.

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They continued, “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.” That’s a blatant lie. They block and throttle what they consider untoward political commentary every day.

Damir Gainutdinov, head of the Net Freedoms Project focusing on online speech in Russia, said, “The authorities show willingness to take more and more stringent measures: ‘Initially we talked to you, then we fined you, and now we will slow you down’.” They can expect it to continue and hopefully both sides will be worse off for it.

David Kamioner
meet the author

David Kamioner is a veteran of U.S. Army Intelligence and an honors graduate of the University of Maryland's European Division. He also served with the Pershing Nuclear Brigade and the First Infantry Division. Subsequent to that he worked for two decades as a political consultant, was part of the American Red Cross Hurricane Katrina disaster relief effort in Louisiana, ran a homeless shelter for veterans in Philadelphia, and taught as a college instructor. He serves as a Contributing Editor for LifeZette.

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