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WhatsApp, Wikimedia Fined Over Failure To Remove Banned Content In Russia


WhatsApp, Wikimedia Fined Over Failure To Remove Banned Content In Russia

In a landmark ruling, a Russian court has issued a fine against messenger service WhatsApp and online encyclopedia Wikipedia, owned by Wikimedia Foundation, for their failure to remove prohibited content as mandated by Russian law. This is the first time WhatsApp has faced penalties for not deleting banned information in Russia.

WhatsApp, a subsidiary of Meta Platforms Inc (formerly known as Facebook), has been at odds with Russian authorities since its parent company was declared an “extremist” organisation by Moscow last year. While other Meta services, such as Facebook and Instagram, have previously been fined for content-related issues, WhatsApp had not faced penalties until now.

The court’s decision to impose a fine on WhatsApp comes as a consequence of the platform’s refusal to remove information regarding the drug Lyrica, which is prohibited in Russia due to its sale and manufacture being banned. The exact details of the banned content were not disclosed in the available information.

The imposed fine amounts to three million roubles, equivalent to approximately USD 37,080, and signifies the court’s response to WhatsApp’s non-compliance with Russian regulations. Meta Platforms Inc, the parent company of WhatsApp, has not yet issued a public comment regarding the fine.

Alongside WhatsApp, the court also fined Wikimedia Foundation, the organisation responsible for managing Wikipedia. The fine of three million roubles was imposed on Wikimedia Foundation for allegedly not removing what Russian authorities deemed “false information” related to Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine.

Wikimedia Foundation has previously asserted that the information in question was well-sourced and complied with Wikipedia’s rigorous standards. At present, Wikimedia Foundation has not responded to requests for comment on the court’s decision.

Over the past few years, the Russian government has engaged in numerous conflicts with major technology companies, including Facebook, Twitter, and Google, concerning issues such as content censorship, data storage, and local representation. These disputes further intensified after Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine on 24 February 2022.

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