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13 Feb, 2020 14:21

Sad face emoji? US social media giants Facebook & Twitter fined by Moscow court as server location impasse intensifies

Sad face emoji? US social media giants Facebook & Twitter fined by Moscow court as server location impasse intensifies

Facebook and Twitter were each fined four million rubles ($62,900) by a Moscow court on Thursday. It marks an escalation in a standoff between the American social media giants and Russian regulators.

The core of the problem is that both companies have refused to move servers containing the data of Russian users to Russia, as required under Russian law. LinkedIn, another high-profile US networking site, has already been blocked for failing to comply with the legislation.

Facebook and Twitter have ignored the rule for years, and it was felt their huge popularity helped deter Russian officials from forcing the issue. However, at the end of last year, President Vladimir Putin signed a fresh law introducing fines, which can reach up to 18 million rubles ($280,000), if the refusals continue.

“[The court] recognizes the foreign entity of Twitter Inc. (registered in California, USA) as guilty of an administrative offense and it imposes a fine of 4 million rubles,” Judge Alexandra Mikhaleva ruled in the first determination. The company must pay the penalty within 60 days. She later delivered an almost identical ruling for Facebook, which will be bound by the same timeframe.

Also on rt.com It’s payback time? Russia slaps Facebook with… $47 fine

It’s unclear how this impasse will end. Facebook’s penetration in the Russian market is significant but remains dwarfed by that of domestic competitor VKontakte. However, there is no direct indigenous equivalent to Twitter, a service which is heavily used by multiple branches of the Russian government itself, most notably by the Foreign Ministry.