Russia targets Twitter speed over ‘banned content’

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Russia’s media watchdog has said it is slowing down the speed of Twitter, accusing the US social media company of failing to remove 3,000 “banned” posts.

The move was “to protect Russian citizens”, Roskomnadzor said.

Twitter is widely used by the Kremlin’s opponents and President Vladimir Putin has accused social media of competing with governments.

As the decision came into effect, the watchdog’s website and that of the Kremlin went down.

The reason for the disruption was not clear but media watchdog officials said it was unrelated to the action against Twitter.

Russian Twitter users said they had begun having difficulties accessing photos and videos on the site. There were also reports that connection speeds in general had slowed down and that the work of Russia’s state internet provider Rostelecom had also been hit. Rostelecom also insisted its problems were not connected to the action against Twitter.

Twitter is the sixth biggest social media site in Russia and widely used by opposition figures including Alexei Navalny, who was jailed in January on his return to Russia after treatment for a poisoning attack in Siberia.

The watchdog said it was reducing the speed of the site on all mobile phones in Russia and on half of non-mobile devices.

President Putin recently gave the media watchdog the power to block social media platforms if they “discriminated” against Russian media. Roskomnadzor warned Twitter in its statement that if it failed to delete 3,000 posts containing “illegal” material then it could be blocked entirely.

It cited content containing child pornography, inciting the suicide of minors as well information on drug use.

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