Russia throttles Twitter speed over claims of illicit content

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Russian regulators announced Wednesday that Twitter speeds would be slowed in the country over claims that the site has failed to crack down on illegal content. The slowdown affects all mobile device connections and half of stationary computing devices. 

Roskomnadzor — Russia’s federal communications oversight service — accused Twitter of failing to take down child pornography on its platform, along with content that encourages drug use and suicide among minors. 

“In order to protect Russian citizens, and forcing the Internet service to comply with the legislation on the territory of the Russian Federation in relation to Twitter, since March 10, 2021 centralized response measures have been taken. Namely, the primary slowdown of the service speed,” Roskomnadzor said in a translated statement.

The move follows similar pushback against the social media platform from authorities in Turkey and India. Roskomnadzor said if Twitter fails to take action on the complaints, it may fully block the site in the country. 

Throttling Twitter may’ve already created unexpected results, however. Network monitoring organization Kentik noted dips in overall mobile usage in Russia on Wednesday. In a tweet, Kentik’s internet analysis director, Doug Madory, said the move “backfired … knocking out mobile internet traffic for many Russians.” 

In an emailed statement, a Twitter spokeswoman said the site is monitoring the throttling, and she denied allegations that Twitter enables abusive content across its platform. 

“We are aware of reports that Twitter is being intentionally slowed down broadly and indiscriminately in Russia due to apparent content removal concerns,” the spokeswoman said Wednesday. 

“Let us be clear — we have a zero-tolerance policy regarding child sexual exploitation, it is against the Twitter Rules to promote, glorify or encourage suicide and self harm, and we do not allow the use of Twitter for any unlawful behavior or to further illegal activities, including the buying and selling of drugs. We remain committed to advocating for the Open Internet around the world and deeply concerned by increased attempts to block and throttle online public conversation.”

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