TikTok is fined RUB 3 million for violating Russia’s law against the spread of LGBT propaganda

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A Russian court on Tuesday fined ByteDance-owned TikTok RUB 3 million (about Rs. 41,500,000) over the social media platform’s refusal to take down content. Russian authorities say this violates laws against the spread of “LGBT propaganda.”

News outlets reported that the case against TikTok was based on allegations that the company “promotes non-traditional values, LGBT, feminism and a distorted representation of traditional sexual values” on its platform.

Russia is considering expanding its existing “gay propaganda” law, passed in 2013, which bans any person or entity from promoting homosexual relationships with children. Lawmakers have argued that the law should be extended to adults as well, and fines for exposure of minors to “LGBT propaganda” should be increased.

TikTok, which was found guilty of a misdemeanor for failing to delete prohibited content, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Interfax reported that a TikTok representative in the courtroom insisted that the case be dismissed without giving further details.

The fine marks the latest step in Moscow’s long-standing feud with Big Tech, with content fines, data retention claims and some outright bans all curbing the influence and reach of Western firms in the country.

Russian authorities say they are defending morality in the face of what they describe as un-Russian liberal values ​​promoted by the West, but human rights activists say the law has been used largely to intimidate Russia’s LGBT community.

In August, a Russian court fined streaming service Twitch RUB 2 million (about Rs. 26.21.100) for hosting a short video that allegedly contained “false” information about alleged war crimes in the Ukrainian city of Bucha. Previously, Russia has also repeatedly threatened to fine other social platforms — including Google, Twitter and Wikipedia — accused of hosting “fake” content related to its military campaign in Ukraine.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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