News / Science & Technology

Russian Official Threatens to Block Twitter, Medvedev Walks Back

An illustration picture shows the logo of the Website Twitter, January 30, 2013.
An illustration picture shows the logo of the Website Twitter, January 30, 2013.

Related Articles

Abduction of Nigerian Schoolgirls Ignites Global Social Media

Activists' attempt to use social media to raise awareness has its critics, who say that a hashtag oversimplifies events on the ground

Freeing China's Sina Weibo

China has limited or completely blocked access to many websites where citizens share their opinions
A high ranking Russian media regulator threatened to block Twitter today, but the threat was quickly walked back by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
 
Maxim Ksenzov, deputy head of Roskomnadzor, a federal body charged with overseeing the media, said that because Twitter has not responded to requests to ban users and remove what it called illegal content, blocking it would be “almost inevitable.”
 
Medvedev posted on Facebook and Twitter that officials should "sometimes switch on their brains" and "not give interviews announcing the closure of social networks."
 
"As an active user of social networks," Medvedev wrote, "I believe that everyone -- networks and users -- must comply with Russian law."
 
The debate about Twitter was sparked when Russian officials said the microblogging site had ignored demands to delete extremist content. Additionally, Russian officials said they were concerned with fake accounts and accounts that spread what they say is libelous information.
 
According to ITAR-TASS, Twitter did remove an account at the request of Russian authorities in late February because it was “disseminating banned information about Syria, including photos of corpses and executions.”
 
Other requests have been ignored, officials said.
 
Despite Medvedev’s statements, media freedom experts were concerned.
 
Eva Galperin of the Electronic Frontiers Foundation, a digital liberties watchdog group, said  it’s “very disturbing” when a high-ranking official threatens to shut down a service like Twitter.

And shutting it down is certainly something Russia has the capability to do.
 
According to Doug Madory, an analyst at Renesys, an Internet intelligence company based in Manchester, N.H., Russia could block Twitter over the entire country.
 
“There is presently a mechanism to block webpages and IP addresses nationally in Russia,” he said in an email to VOA. “They could add twitter domains and IPs addresses to that block list.”
 
The Russian government maintains a public database of blocked IP addresses and domains on its blacklist.
 
Christopher Burgess, CEO of Prevendra, a security, intelligence and privacy company, said the Russian complaint about fake accounts was interesting.
 
These, he said “could be construed as either ‘bots’ or those individuals choosing anonymity.”
 
“The former, from my optic, is policed by Twitter's spam team with vigor, the latter may be viewed as a necessity by those wishing to dissent in opinion,” he said. “If the Russian government believes individuals have engaged in libelous action by posting defaming content, they should pursue direct litigation against the offending party.”
 
He added that there have been a number of cases in which the individual libeled has persevered and obtained a court mandated solution.
 
“Blocking Twitter to the nation probably isn't a good idea, as other nations have attempted such and found social networks flow like water, the water will find a way down the hill,” he said.
 
Twitter did not respond to a request for comment about the Russian threat to block it.
 
Medvedev isn’t the only Russian leader who has embraced social media.
 
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently engaged the head of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in a Twitter spat over the crisis in Ukraine.

If Twitter is blocked, it would represent a further Russian effort to tighten control of the Internet.
 
In March, the Kremlin blocked the websites of opposition leader Garry Kasparov, the independent Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow) radio station and the online newspaper Grani.

Last month, Pavel Durov, founder of the country’s most popular social network, VKontakte, said he was fired as CEO and forced to flee to Central Europe after refusing to hand over Euromaidan protesters’ private information to Russian authorities.
 
Also in April, Russia’s State Duma passed a bill would require bloggers with over 3,000 daily viewers to register with the government. They’d face the same scrutiny – some say censorship – experienced by Russian TV and newspapers.

You May Like

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More