Twitter takes on Russia in censorship dispute

Social

by Jimmy Nicholls| 24 June 2014

Kremlin's plan to quash dissent runs up against social network.

Twitter has rebuffed allegations that it blocked "extremist" accounts on its social network, following reports from Russian government officials that it had agreed to do so.

Colin Cromwell, public policy chief for the network, met with Alexander Zharov, head of state censor Roskomnadzor, on Sunday to discuss shutting down accounts not in compliance with Russian press regulations.

Speaking to a Russian newswire, Zharov said: "I hope that the information of a number of extremist blogs will be removed.

"It does not matter where the blog is registered. What matters is that it is carried out in language the people of Russia and the Russian Federation can understand."

Russia's blogging law set to take effect in August means that anybody with an audience of more than 3,000 has to register as part of the media and comply with the country's restrictive press regulations, which also applies to users on Twitter.

The social network has a policy of removing illegal content within specific countries in which it is prohibited, but relies on a reporting service rather than acting pre-emptively.

According to its biannual report Twitter received 14 requests from the Russian government to remove content on its site in the second half of last year, and approved removal of some content in two-thirds of those cases.

A report from Russian newspaper Izvestia claimed that an official from the state censor had threatened to block access to Twitter if it did not comply with the law, a tactic used by the Turkish government prior to local elections in the country.

"This is not only about Russian users. Even if the account is registered on the territory of Ukraine , this information is still extremist," Zharov added. "Twitter has heard us, and I hope in the coming days the accounts will be removed."

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