Big tech can bully anyone, but Russia. And Twitter is realising this the hard way. The microblogging giant has been bullying governments across the world and unabashedly interfering in the electoral process. But Russian President Vladimir Putin is now bullying the bully.
Within Russia, Twitter is going through a nightmare. The Russian government has been grilling Twitter over its failure to remove ‘banned content’. Hefty fines, slowdowns and threats of an outright ban- the social media giant is facing all forms of hardships at the hands of the Putin administration.
The real issue is that Putin knows how big tech has encouraged the upsurge in anti-Russia content after the Alexei Navalny Poisoning incident. Therefore, the Putin administration decided to crack down on such ‘illegal content’. But within Russia, there is a general feeling that Twitter has been too slow in deleting such content.
Putin, however, is not the one to relent and this has created a lot of friction between the Putin administration and Twitter. First, it was Russia’s communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor that issued a statement reading, “The rate at which the social network is removing banned information is unsatisfactory.”
Roskomnadzor had then added, “Two thirds of material that is harmful for children remains available on Twitter.”
And then the Putin administration itself started reacting. Last month, it issued an ultimatum to the platform suggesting that the microblogging platform would be banned if it did not remove the banned content.
At the same time, a Russian court fined Twitter $116,778 over its failure to remove banned content. This again served as a warning to the microblogging platform – if you don’t delete banned content, you will have to pay up for it.
Russian authorities now say that Twitter has started removing anti-Russian content. Yet, Russia’s State telecommunications watchdog Roskomnadzor extended the deadline for it to remove illegal content. However, Putin is keeping the platform on tenterhooks and has extended the ongoing slowdown until mid-May.
Putin is actually making Twitter unpopular amongst Russians. Since March 10, Roskomnadzor has slowed down the speed of uploading photos and videos to the platform. This, of course, reduces the utility of Twitter for Russians.
The fact remains that Twitter’s stubbornness has become a raging issue across the world. Twitter has been facing continuous criticism over the ban that was imposed on former US President Donald Trump in the aftermath of the Capitol Hill security breach.
The fact that Twitter is biased is no longer a secret. Take the ban on New York Post’s Hunter Biden story for instance. Dorsey himself admitted that Twitter made a “total mistake” by prohibiting users from sharing Post’s story about Hunter Biden’s emails.
Yet, Russian President Vladimir Putin is the one giving a nightmare to Twitter. His message is loud and clear- Twitter can interfere with elections everywhere, but not in Russia. The microblogging platform will have no relevance in Russia if it does not bow down to what Russian authorities demand from it.