Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) has been in the cross hairs with Russian authorities, along with other U.S.-based sties like YouTube and Twitter in past months over some pages that are are not so sensitive to innocent children’s sensibilities. The Russian government issued a new child online protection law last fall that was designed to block children from viewing material that was deemed harmful. However, the government had the tradition of taking a sledgehammer to enforcement of laws such as this by prohibiting certain websites from being seen in Russia altogether.
Instead, Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB), YouTube and Twitter came to Russia with scalpels. These sites, along with others, have been working to cooperate with the Russian authorities for the sake of their sites. Rather than have Russia block the entire site, these sites are going through their pages and conducting their own self-censorship by blocking the individual pages that the Russian government would find harmful – leaving the rest of the site accessible to Russian citizens.
The steps to censorship in Russia have been borne out by a fall 2012 survey that suggested that more than 60 percent of respondents believed that there was so much harmful online content that censorship was a reasonable step. And Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) has been working to keep Russia from enforcing a law more broadly to where the government could justify shutting down an entire site. Facebook did take down a page that promoted child suicide, and Twitter removed some tweets that referred to drug transactions or referred to “suicidal thoughts.” Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) removed a YouTube video that allegedly referred to suicide, but Google is suing to return the video to public display because it is a video made “in jest” and is for entertainment.
Do you think Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) and the others are right to step in and censor some of its own content? Do you think these sites could be shut down by Russian authorities? Let us know your thoughts about this case in the comments section below.
DISCLOSURE: I own no positions in any stock mentioned.
Please see these related FB articles: