WhatsApp Fined for not Removing Banned Content by Russia

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(Reuters) – A Russian court on Thursday fined messenger service WhatsApp 3 million roubles ($37,080) for not deleting banned content, its first fine in Russia for that offence.

Although WhatsApp’s parent company Meta Platforms Inc (META.O) was last year banned in Russia as an “extremist” organisation, the messenger app – which is widely popular in Russia – has not previousl faced penalties for failing to remove prohibited information.

Other Meta services, Facebook and Instagram – now banned in Russia – have been fined over content, as have the likes of Twitter and Alphabet’s (GOOGL.O) Google.

WhatsApp, however, has previously been fined for its alleged refusal to comply with Russian data law and store Russian users’ data on servers in the country.

The RIA news agency reported that Thursday’s fine was due to WhatsApp’s refusal to remove information about the drug Lyrica, wholesale and manufacture are prohibited in Russia.

Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment outside U.S. business hours.

Moscow has for years clashed with Big Tech over content, censorship, data and local representation in disputes that escalated after Russia sent its armed forces into Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.