Social network TikTok announces suspending the creation of new videos in Russia

Posted 07 March, 2022

The social network TikTok announced on Sunday that it was suspending the possibility of posting new videos on its platform in Russia, due to a new law penalizing the dissemination of information aimed at "discrediting" the army and its invasion of Ukraine.

"In view of the new law on + misleading information +, we have no other choice than to suspend live broadcasts and the posting of new content (...) while we study the possible consequences for the safety" of TikTok employees and its users, the social network explained in a series of tweets.

The announcement from TikTok, which is still maintaining its messaging service, comes after a week that saw Russian authorities block access to Facebook in the country and restrict that of Twitter.

Contacted by AFP, TikTok did not specify whether or not videos posted from abroad would remain accessible to Russian users.

The decision of this social network, which claims more than a billion users worldwide, has a diplomatic dimension because TikTok is a subsidiary of the Chinese group ByteDance.

China, which has close ties with Russia, has so far refrained from condemning the invasion of Ukraine.

Two texts strictly framing the information disseminated on the war in Ukraine and the sanctions imposed on Russia were adopted by the Russian Parliament and ratified by President Vladimir Putin on Friday.

The dissemination of information aimed at "discrediting" the Russian armed forces is now punishable by 15 years in prison. "Calls to impose sanctions on Russia" are also liable to prosecution, according to the texts.

They apply both to the media and to individuals, both Russian and foreign.

These measures were seen as a way for the Russian authorities to control the information circulating in Russia about the war in Ukraine and the sanctions imposed by the international community.

Their entry into force has led several foreign media to suspend their activities in Russia, in particular the Bloomberg agency, the British public broadcaster BBC, while the American channel CNN has suspended its broadcasting in the country.

According to a study by Insider Intelligence published this week, TikTok had some 24.7 million accounts in Russia at the end of 2021.

About 30% of Russians interested in video content on social networks said they consult TikTok in a study by Deloitte, published in September 2021.

The platform, however, remained a good distance from YouTube, which had 76 million users in Russia at the end of 2021, according to Insider Intelligence.

Asked by AFP, Google, the parent company of YouTube, did not respond immediately.


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