Russia crackdown: Netflix and TikTok blocks Netflix and TikTok services

Netflix and TikTok both suspended their Russian services on Sunday, as the government clamps down on media outlets and people's opinions about Russia’s war in Ukraine.

07 March 2022 Monday 10:24
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Russia crackdown: Netflix and TikTok blocks Netflix and TikTok services

TikTok announced that Russian users of the popular social media app will no longer be allowed to upload new videos or livestreams, and that they won't be able see any videos from other parts of the world.

Netflix stated that it had suspended its Russian service, but did not provide any additional information.

These actions will likely further isolate Russia and its people. Russia has been cut off from critical financial services and technology by a growing number multinational companies in response to Western economic sanctions, global outrage and the invasion of Ukraine.

American Express, Mastercard, and Visa all announced that they will cease service to Russia over the weekend. Samsung Electronics in South Korea, a major supplier of smartphones and computer chips, announced that it will stop product shipment to Russia. It joins other large tech companies like Apple, Microsoft and Intel.

However, providers of internet-based apps and services were reluctant to take any actions that could result in Russian citizens being denied access to social media and other information sources.

Friday's events were markedly different when Russian President Vladimir Putin stepped up his crackdown against media outlets and individuals that fail to adhere to the Kremlin's line on war, blocking Facebook/Twitter and signing into law a bill which criminalizes intentional spreading of "false" reports.

TikTok released a statement via Twitter on Sunday, saying that "In light Russia's new fake news" law, we are forced to suspend livestreaming while we examine the safety implications. "Our in-app messaging services will not be affected."

Hilary McQuaide, a TikTok spokesperson, stated that the TikTok app for Russia is now in view-only mode. This means it won't allow users to post new videos or livestreams. She said that they can still view older videos but not those from outside of Russia.

She stated that "the safety of employees" is the top priority. Additionally, she added that the video-sharing company -- part of China's tech company ByteDance - didn't want to expose its Russian users or employees to severe criminal penalties. Social media platforms have been used by some protesters to voice their disapproval at the invasion of Ukraine.

The new legislation was quickly approved by both the Kremlin-controlled parliament houses and signed by Putin. It imposes a maximum of 15 years imprisonment for anyone spreading information that is contrary to the Russian government's war narrative.

Multiple news outlets also stated that they would suspend their work in Russia to assess the situation. Russian authorities repeatedly and falsely denounced reports about civilian deaths or military setbacks in Ukraine as fake news. Russian invasion of Ukraine is being described by state media outlets as a "special army operation" and not a war or invasion.

For spreading false information about the military, the law allows for sentences up to three years and fines. However, the maximum punishment for those who are found to have caused "severe consequences" is 15 years.


 

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