Eastern Europe News

Russia Blocks Chinese Social Media, Tightens Internet Control

Russian telecom watchdog Roskomnadzor banned China’s WeChat earlier this week. WeChat is a popular social media app developed by Tencent Technology in China, where Facebook and other social media channels are banned. Watchdog Roskomnadzor is officially known as the Federal Service for supervision in the sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications.


According to information posted on the Russian regulator’s website access to China’s most popular social media platform has been restricted since May 4.


Last year, Russia blocked U.S. social networking site LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft, for violating a law that requires data on Russian citizens to be stored on Russian servers.


The South China Morning Post said access to the app was restricted on the basis of Article 15.4 of the law on information, information technologies and information security.


Vadim Ampelonskiy, spokesman for the Roskomnadzor watchdog, said on Saturday WeChat was blocked because it did not provide contact details for Russia’s register of “organizers of information distribution on the internet.”


Tencent told Reuters it was checking the status of its WeChat app in Russia and was in touch with the  authorities: “Tencent is aware of the move and communicating with Russian authorities over the matter.”


Social media applications such as Facebook and Twitter are blocked in China, which means the blockage of WeChat in Russia may affect Chinese tourists and Russians doing business with China.


Since it launched in 2011, WeChat has become China’s most popular mobile social media platform with over 900 milion users worldwide.

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