TikTok suspends content in Russia in response to ‘fake news’ law – TechCrunch

TikTok is suspending live streaming and new content on its video service in response to Russia’s new “fake news law,” the company said on Sunday.

The law, approved Friday by the lower house of Russia’s parliament, threatens jail terms for anyone who publishes what the Kremlin considers false information about the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Those found guilty of disseminating false information about the Russian armed forces face up to 15 years in prison or a fine of 1.5 million rubles or $14,000 dollars.

TikTok, along with several news organizations, have decided to suspend operations in the country to maintain the safety of employees and users who could use the app to “provide a source of relief and human connection at a time of war where people are being faced with immense tragedies and isolation,” tweeted the social media company.

The Kremlin describes its actions in Ukraine as a “special military operation” and a “peace mission”, so any description to the contrary could be dangerous. This law, as well as Russia’s decision to block Facebook, shows government pressure to suppress any narrative that contradicts the Kremlin’s official statements or exposes the role of the country’s military in fueling a humanitarian crisis.

More broadly, the law represents Russia’s actions to terrify any opposition. The country has erupted into anti-war protests, with nearly 4,000 people detained in 53 cities on Sunday. In Moscow alone, that number was 1,400.

TikTokers have documented the protests and other actions on the ground, such as the impact of the economic sanctions on everyday Russians. Any suspension will give nationals who speak out against their government one less channel to the rest of the world.

This most recent crisis is not the first time that the Russian people have used TikTok as a political battleground. A year ago, young people started using the app to create videos in support of free speech and to protest the government’s treatment of the anti-authoritarian, anti-Putin, anti-corruption politician and activist Alexei Navalny. Among other political conflicts, Navalny has faced multiple prison terms, poisoning and a conviction for violating a previous parole from Putin’s government.

To gain support for Navalny, as well as express anger and dissatisfaction with the Russian government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and a weakened economy, the app was inundated with videos of teenagers cutting or throwing their passports , or how-tos for demonstrators.

In response to TikTok’s suspension, some TikTokers who have posted such information regret the opportunity to reach new audiences and share their stories, but are determined to use Instagram and YouTube to get information out, provided that those platforms are not closed to Russian users as well. They also invite viewers to join their Telegram channels.

This post TikTok suspends content in Russia in response to ‘fake news’ law – TechCrunch was original published at “https://techcrunch.com/2022/03/06/tiktok-suspends-content-in-russia-in-response-to-fake-news-law/”

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