Facebook may face hefty fine in Russia over banned content

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Russian authorities on Thursday warned social media giant Facebook it faces a fine of up to 10 percent of its annual turnover in the country unless it deletes content Moscow deems illegal.

Upping the ante in its standoff with US Big Tech, state communications regulator Roskomnadzor told Reuters it was planning to send Facebook’s representatives in Russia an official notification saying it had repeatedly failed to remove banned information.

That, it said, could lead to a fine of 5 percent or 10 percent of Facebook’s annual Russian turnover unless the situation is remedied.

Facebook’s violations include failing to remove posts containing child pornography, drug abuse and extremist content, the Vedomosti daily reported separately.

Facebook had no immediate comment.

Moscow has increased pressure on foreign tech companies over the last year as part of a long-running push to assert greater sovereignty over its segment of the internet, including efforts to make companies store Russians’ personal data on its territory.

A woman holds a smart phone with Russian letters atop and the icons for Facebook and social networking apps
Facebook may face a fine of 5% or 10% of its annual Russian turnover unless the social media giant complies with Russian regulators.
AFP via Getty Images

On Wednesday, Russia threatened to block YouTube, owned by Alphabet Inc., after the video-hosting giant removed Russian state-backed broadcaster RT’s German-language channels from its site.

Earlier this year, Roskomnadzor wrote to Facebook and other social media firms demanding they remove posts containing calls for minors to participate in anti-government protests after the arrest of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

Vedomosti cited experts who estimated Facebook’s annual Russian turnover at around 12 billion roubles ($165 million).

Vladimir Putin
Russia, led by President Vladimir Putin, has increased pressure on foreign tech companies like Facebook over the last year.
Getty Images

Reuters could not immediately verify that estimate.

Roskomnadzor has opened 17 different administrative cases against Facebook this year for failing to delete banned content, court documents showed, with 64 million roubles owed in fines or pending.

A turnover fine would dwarf those levied so far.

“Facebook’s administration has not paid the fines,” Vedomosti cited Roskomnadzor as saying.



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