Russia wants to ban social media sites discriminating against Russian news outlets


Vladimir_Timofeev, Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Russian government is working on a new law to block foreign social media sites inside Russia’s territory as repercussions for “discriminating” against Russian news outlets operating abroad.

Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are specifically mentioned in “explanatory notes” (Word document) accompanying the new draft bill, submitted last week for debate in the Russian Duma (state parliament).

Russian lawmakers say that since April 2020, state authorities had received complaints from editors of Russian news sites that had their social media accounts censored on the aforementioned sites.

“Media outlets such as Russia Today, RIA Novosti, Crimea 24 were censored. In total, about 20 acts of discrimination were recorded,” Russian lawmakers said.

The acts of discrimination referenced in the draft bill’s notes refers to rules introduced at Twitter and Facebook this year, and at YouTube in 2018.

The three sites have been showing special labels on the profiles

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Why Russia Is Planning New Curbs On U.S. Social Media Companies

New legislation planned in Russia takes aim at YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. One lawmaker behind the proposal, Anton Gorelkin, accuses the social media giants of “blatant discrimination” against Russian media, according to comments reported by TASS.

The proposed law is an attempt to hit back at measures which social media platforms introduced earlier this year. Those measures saw some media organizations—including some in Russia—labeled as “government” or “state” affiliated.

The Russian parliamentarians behind the bill are mostly members of “United Russia,” the country’s biggest political party, characterized mainly by its staunch support for the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. As Reuters reported, the lawmakers say that they have received complaints from Russian media organizations now subject to new labels,

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Russia presents draft law enabling Moscow to block Facebook, Twitter

A Russian waves a Facebook flag in Red Square, Moscow.

Sasha Mordovets | Getty Images

Lawmakers in Russia’s parliament presented draft legislation on Thursday that, if passed, would enable the government to restrict internet access to U.S. social media giants deemed to have discriminated against Russian media outlets.

The authors of the bill, most of whom were from the ruling United Russia party, said they had received complaints from home-grown outlets like Russia Today, RIA Novosti and Crimea 24 about accounts being suspended or labelled by Twitter, Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s YouTube.

Twitter began labelling the accounts of several Russian media outlets with the description “state-affiliated media”, along with those of their senior staff and some key government officials in August, a move decried by Russia at the time.

“The urgency in adopting the draft law is due to numerous cases of unjustified restriction of Russian citizens’ access to information

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