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Russia accuses Twitter of breaking law by failing to delete content

FILE PHOTO: The Twitter App loads on an iPhone in this illustration photograph taken in Los Angeles, California, U.S., July 22, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s communications regulator accused Twitter on Monday of violating Russian law, saying the social media platform had not complied with some of its requests to delete banned content.

Roskomnadzor said Twitter had failed to delete 2,862 posts containing material linked to suicide, pornography and drugs since 2017. It could be fined heavily if found guilty of repeatedly failing to delete content deemed illegal under Russian law, it said.

The platform is used extensively by Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and his allies to criticize the authorities and announce new protests.

Twitter, which declined to comment, has been fined in the past for breaching Russia’s data laws, but the penalties have been relatively small. A Moscow court last year fined Twitter 4 million roubles ($54,000) for failing to comply with Russian data law after the platform refused to locate its server holding data about Russian citizens on Russian territory.

Russia in recent months has taken steps to exert more influence over foreign social media platforms.

Bills passed by the lower house of parliament in December last year allowed Russia to impose large fines on platforms that do not delete banned content and even to restrict access to U.S. social media giants if they “discriminate” against Russian media.

The foreign ministry has also accused Facebook and other U.S. platforms of failing to identify fake posts related to unauthorized protests in support of Navalny, where police detained thousands of demonstrators nationwide.

In January, President Vladimir Putin queried what he described as the growing clout of U.S. social media giants and said their influence meant they now competed with governments.

Reporting by Anton Kolodyazhnyy and Alexander Marrow; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Giles Elgood

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