TikTok blocks new content uploads in Russia after launch of ‘fake news’ law
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TikTok is preventing its Russian users from uploading new content and conducting livestreams in an effort to prevent the platform from being banned under Russia's new 'fake news' law.
In a series of tweets, TikTok confirmed that while users in the country would be able to access older content, new uploads would be unavailable for the time being. Older content made by users outside Russia would also be unavailable to stream.
Russia has already blocked Facebook and Twitter after they restricted the country’s state-backed media on their platforms for spreading propaganda related to the war in Ukraine.
The country recently passed new legislation - quickly rubber-stamped by both houses of the Kremlin-controlled parliament - that imposes prison sentences of up to 15 years for those spreading information that goes against the Russian government’s preferred narrative on the war in Ukraine.
“TikTok is an outlet for creativity and entertainment that can provide a source of relief and human connection during a time of war when people are facing immense tragedy and isolation. However, the safety of our employees and our users remain our highest priority,” the firm said in a tweet.
“In light of Russia's new ‘fake news’ law, we have no choice but to suspend livestreaming and new content to our video service while we review the safety implications of this law. Our in-app messaging service will not be affected.”
The action is likely to further isolate the country and its people after a growing number of multinational businesses have cut off Russia from vital financial services and technology products in response to Western economic sanctions and global outrage over the invasion of Ukraine.
TikTok is owned by Chinese firm ByteDance and concerns have been raised in the past about the influence that the Chinese state might have regarding content on the platform.
China has been one of Russia’s few allies in the ongoing Ukraine conflict and has not initiated sanctions akin to those from Western countries. A Western intelligence report from last week indicated that Chinese officials had even contacted Russian President Vladimir Putin to ask him not to begin the invasion until after the country had finished hosting the Winter Olympics.
TikTok has previously been accused of suspending accounts posting content about China’s work camps for Uighur Muslims, as well as LGBT-related hashtags.
In 2020, a coalition of 20 advocacy groups accused the firm of violating US child privacy laws and breaching a settlement agreed in February 2019 with the Federal Trade Commission.
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