Russia slaps Reddit, Wikipedia with fines

A court in Moscow fined Reddit and Wikimedia Foundation, which owns Wikipedia, for refusing to delete “banned content” about Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The magistrate judge in Moscow ruled on Tuesday (August 15th) that Reddit was “guilty of committing an administrative offense,” slapping it with its first fine in Russia, according to RIA Novosti, a Russian state-owned news agency.

The court said Reddit failed to delete “fake news” about what Russia calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine.

It said the website also failed to remove information about an underground prison organization banned in Russia. Reddit was fined 2 billion roubles or the equivalent of about $20,365.

Shortly after, the court also fined Wikimedia Foundation for the same amount. The organization was told to remove two articles about Russia’s war in Ukraine but did not comply.

Unlike Reddit, Wikimedia Foundation has been repeatedly fined in Russia for not removing articles Russian authorities instructed it to remove.

The non-profit said that the articles in question were well-sourced and in line with its standards. It also said it had two active appeals to content takedown notices from the Russian government.

"These orders are part of an ongoing effort by the Russian government to limit the spread of reliable, well-sourced information in the country," Jacob Rogers, Associate General Counsel at the Wikimedia Foundation, said in a statement sent to Cybernews.

"We are against such pressure tactics and will not back down in the face of government threats to deny people their fundamental human right to access free, open, and verifiable information," Rogers added.

Cybernews has also reached out to Reddit for comment.

Dozens of Wikipedia articles related to the war in Ukraine are blocked in Russia. In the past, President Vladimir Putin urged Russians not to use it and called for a “reliable” Russian version.

Other companies under scrutiny in Russia for failing to remove content Moscow considers illegal include streaming service Twitch and search giant Google.

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