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A Russian court has slapped a fine of 2.6 million Rubles ($32,700) on TikTok for failing to delete posts that called minors to join unsanctioned protests in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, the state-run news agency TASS reported. The verdict was pronounced by a court in Moscow which convicted the video-sharing platform of violating laws of the country. The penalty which totals US$34,000 comes within days of another court slapping an 8.9 million ruble fine on Twitter for the same reason.
Despite the Vladimir Putin administration’s strict warnings and occasional use of force, hundreds of thousands of Russians take to the streets every week to demand justice for Navalny. Social media platforms including YouTube, VK, Instagram often serve as the perfect medium for leaders and protesters to organise mass rallies. Russia, earlier this year, warned foreign media platforms of meddling with its domestic affairs, followed which it ramped up pressure on the forums.
Last month, the country's media watchdog Roskomnadzor warned that it would draw up new protocols which would allow the Russian judiciary to fine foreign social media platforms for failing to delete the calls of mass rallies and protests. It said that continuing to display calls for unsanctioned demonstrations was like “inciting teenagers” to participate in “illegal activities.” Additionally, Roskomnadzor has also throttled the speed of Twitter after it failed to wipe out all content that pertains to pornography, drug use and suicide.
Roskomnadzor had also demanded that Twitter provides a list of accounts that it deactivated, most of which were found to be linked with the Russian government. Twitter had earlier taken down the Russian government-linked accounts saying that it “amplified narratives that were aligned with the Russian government” as well as "undermining faith in the NATO alliance and its stability.” Russia warned that under its law, the social media giant risks facing a penalty of up to 800,000 to 8 million rubles for not removing the illegal content. Twitter now faces the threat of a complete blockage in the country.