United States Technology giants, Google and Facebook, have been fined by a Russian court over failure to delete content deemed illegal by Russia. In separate statements, the Russian court said that both companies were guilty of administrative offenses.
Facebook’s case involved eight reports about material posted on Facebook that Russian authorities wanted Facebook to remove. According to the Russian authorities, the post encouraged minors to join unsanctioned protests in January, when people across the country took to the streets to support Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny after he was detained.
In recent times, Google and Russia have not been getting along quite well, and the fines come in the middle of Google’s and Russia’s falling out. Threats have supposedly been sent to Google by Russia’s communication watchdog; that the company’s traffic could eventually be slowed down in the country if it failed to delete prohibited content.
Google’s Russian branch announced last week that it had appealed against a Moscow court order obliging it to unblock the YouTube account of a Christian Orthodox news channel owned by a Russian businessman who is under U.S. and EU financial sanctions.
On May 25, Moscow’s Tagansky District Court, on eight separate counts, fined Facebook an amount of RUB 26 million in total ($353,000). Google was also fined by the same Court to pay a total of RUB 6 million ($82,000) for three different offenses.
After the verdict, Google Russia refused to comment. Facebook also failed to immediately respond to a request for comment.
Facebook and Google happen to not be the only platforms to be fined for failing to delete banned content in Russia. In April, Twitter was accused of failing to delete banned content on its platform. A court issued three separate fines against Twitter and this amounted to 8.9 million roubles ($121,000). TikTok has also been fined for similar offenses this year.
Russia’s vicious efforts in imposing sanctions on social networks have been described as part of a push by Moscow to rein in Western tech companies and strengthen what it calls its internet “sovereignty.”