Russian Court Levies New Fines Against Facebook, Telegram For Not Deleting ‘Banned’ Content

A Russian court has fined U.S. social-media giant Facebook and messaging app Telegram again for failing to delete content Moscow deems illegal.

The Magistrates Court in the Taganka district said on July 22 it had fined Facebook 6 million rubles ($81,000) and Telegram 11 million rubles ($149,000) on two protocols filed by Russia’s communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor.

Moscow claims it is trying to rein in Western tech giants and bolster what it calls its Internet “sovereignty,” though many critics say the authorities are trying to quell dissent with parliamentary elections looming in September and the ruling United Russia party’s popularity slumping.

Several social-media giants have been embroiled in a broad dispute with authorities who say posts on their sites, among other things, encouraged minors to join unsanctioned protests in January, when people across the country took to the streets to support opposition politician and Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny after he was detained on what he calls trumped-up charges.

Moscow is also seeking to force foreign firms to open offices in Russia and store Russians’ personal data on its territory.

Last month, the same court fined Facebook 17 million rubles and Telegram 10 million rubles for what it called “administrative offenses” after the two failed to remove content banned by Russia.

U.S. social network Twitter and the U.S. technology giant Google have also been fined for similar offenses.

Roskomnadzor has threatened that it could eventually slow down Internet traffic in the country for social-media companies if they fail to delete content that is prohibited by Russian authorities.

Based on reporting by TASS and Interfax

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