U.S. Social-Media Giants Are Resisting Russia Censors
Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and Google Inc. have started resisting Russian government orders to remove information about a rally next month in support of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, raising the prospect of a showdown over the Kremlin’s efforts to control online information.
In response to a request from Russian prosecutors, Roskomnadzor, the country’s communications regulator, began issuing block orders for Russia just hours after the Moscow rally was publicized on social media late last week, officials said. Facebook honored the initial order last weekend and blocked a page promoting the event, but others were quickly created, attracting more attention.
Since then, Facebook has left the other pages promoting the rally active in Russia, including one that shows more than 32,000 users indicating they will attend. Facebook lawyers are reviewing a growing number of Russian government removal requests, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Twitter Inc. confirmed that it has received multiple directives since last week from Russian authorities to remove tweets and accounts that promote the rally, citing a prosecutorial order under Russian federal law. But a Twitter spokesman said the company has “not removed the content they specified,” and has been forwarding the government orders to users to warn them.
Google Inc.’s YouTube still has videos promoting the rally available on its Russian site, despite the government’s directives.
A spokesman for Roskomnadzor said the prosecutors’ order to block rally content “will be fulfilled,” but declined to offer details on how. “We’re talking to everybody differently,” he said. The blocks don’t usually affect users outside Russia.