Russia is threatening to ban YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter for censoring Russia’s media outlets. Such censorship is a retaliation to the Big Tech giant’s own censorship of Russian state media but the ban would only see a rise in the use of VPNs in the country.
For months, Russia’s state-backed media has been complaining that YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter have been censoring their accounts. Outlets such as RT have been censored for violating the platforms’ “misinformation” policies.
On Thursday, senior lawmakers from Russia’s ruling party submitted a draft of a law proposing that these foreign platforms (Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube) breach the rights of Russians through censorship of content. The proposed penalties include fines and temporary and even permanent restrictions of these platforms in Russia.
“Discriminatory actions against Russian clients of these services have taken place,” said Dmitry Peskov, a government spokesperson to Bloomberg. “This must be countered. Peskov was not bold enough to say that the platforms would be banned, but he did say the legislature would determine the best sanctions to impose on these platforms for their “discriminatory” censorship.
However, banning these platforms might be counterproductive due to VPNs.
“Excellent. Let them pass it as soon as possible, the whole country will finally start using VPN” opposition leader Alexey Navalny wrote on Twitter.
Additionally, while those in the West may want to see similar action against tech giants, the Russian government is not considering the censorship in good faith. The government has banned thousands of websites considered to have “unacceptable” content and the government is certainly no stranger to censorship. They would be punishing the social media platforms for doing the exact thing they do to other websites.