Russia accuses Twitter of inciting teenagers to demonstrate

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Moscow threatened to ban Twitter if the platform did not delete 3,168 tweets dating back to 2017

Russia has decided to extend Twitter access restrictions on users within the country until May 15th.

The Russian decision comes after a Moscow court on Friday imposed two fines on Twitter for refusing to remove information including invitations to minors to take part in unauthorized protests, russian authorities said, but the opposition points to a narrowing linked to opposition support for Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny.

Russia has taken the step of slowing down Twitter as a test of its new sovereign Internet infrastructure, which is less dependent on Western technology companies.

Greater control over foreign social networks became more pressing for the Kremlin after supporters of opposition activist Alexei Navalny used it to organize nationwide protests in January.

Moscow has threatened to ban Twitter if the platform does not delete 3,168 tweets dating back to 2017 that say it encourages illegal activities.

The warning came after Russian President Vladimir Putin said that « society collapses from within if the Internet is not subject to official legal rules and ethical laws of society. »

Working against large technology companies carries its own risks, with last month’s move to slow Twitter down the Kremlin, the Russian parliament and several government agencies, highlighting Moscow’s reliance on foreign Internet infrastructure.

The sovereign Internet – a parallel network operating through Russian servers – is intended to possess technology to selectively restrict access to prohibited content without the risk of collateral damage.

Russian observers say they learned the lesson from an attempt to ban the Messaging Telegram app in 2018, which halted more than 16 million irrelevant sites, while the messaging app’s audience increased from 10 million to 30 million.

Twitter restrictions represent the first important use of the sovereign Internet through a technology known as deep packet screening, which theoretically gives observers the ability to filter individual pages without stopping thousands of other pages with them.

Preliminary results show that there may be flaws in the system, and the slowdown appears to have hit many sites whose domains use T.co that Twitter uses for short web addresses.
Russia is still unable to control every server used by Twitter because it has different servers for its content delivery network around the world.

The threat to ban social networks — as Moscow did with LinkedIn in 2016 — did not prompt Silicon Valley giants to comply with Russia’s laws on the localization of banned data and content.
Facebook and Google are also not vulnerable to the kind of pressure Russia has exerted on local technology companies.

Russian search engine Yandex gave the Kremlin a veto over its administration if U.S.-based investors tried to take control.

Broadcasting platform Ivi reportedly halted initial public offering plans after lawmakers moved to limit foreign funding for online entertainment sites.

Russia is also unable to gain a strong foothold across platforms such as YouTube, where Navalny has more subscribers than state television networks.

Russia hopes that the threat of a ban backed by its new technology will force Silicon Valley to comply with its laws.

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