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

Nearly Every Job in America Mapped in Detail

A nifty map pinpoints practically every job in the United States, revealing the economic character of America’s metropolitan areas, which also helps to inform the local culture

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs