A Russian court has ordered a fine against the popular video-sharing application TikTok in the country’s latest major dispute with a global social platform over content allegedly related to political protests.
The Moscow court ruled on April 6 that TikTok failed to delete content that it said was related to unsanctioned demonstrations, according to local reports.
Russian critics of the Kremlin routinely use international social networks, including Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube, to get around state control of the media and reach tens of millions of citizens with their anti-government messages.
Some local reports suggested the TikTok fine — 2.6 million roubles ($34,000) — pertained to alleged appeals to minors urging them to join political demonstrations.
Russian authorities this week backed off slightly from a threat to ban the Twitter social network but have punitively slowed its user connections and announced suits targeting fellow Western digital giants Google and Facebook.
TikTok is owned by China’s ByteDance and reports nearly 700 million active users worldwide.
India and Pakistan have banned TikTok in the past, citing politically contentious posts, and then-President Donald Trump sought unsuccessfully last year to ban it in the United States.
Russia’s state communications regulator said on April 5 that it wouldn’t ban Twitter amid a dispute over content related to protests but would continue to slow the U.S. social network’s speed inside the country until the middle of May.
Imprisoned Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny in January used U.S. social-media networks to organize some of the largest anti-government protests since 2011-12.
A Russian court on April 2 levied a nearly $120,000 fine against Twitter for failing to removes posts related to those protests.
The Russian regulator has also focused its complaints against Twitter over alleged failures to remove child pornography and content the overseers said encourages drug use and suicide among children.
Twitter said it has a zero-tolerance policy regarding child pornography and other content deemed harmful.
Roskomnadzor began slowing the speed of traffic on Twitter last month.
In its April 5 statement, the regulator said it would not ban Twitter yet after it claimed the platform took down 1,900 of 3,100 posts with banned content.
Russia’s efforts to tighten control of the Internet and social media date back to 2012, shortly after the largest anti-government protests in years.
Since then, a growing number of restrictions targeting messaging apps, websites, and social-media platforms have been introduced in Russia.