Company cites ‘fake news law’ in decision to pull out
Micro-vlogging platform TikTok has banned live-streaming and posting new content in Russia, blaming the country’s recently-adopted “fake news law” which threatens those spreading false information about the Russian military or calling for sanctions on Russia with up to 15 years’ prison sentence. In a series of tweets on Sunday, the company insisted it was putting the “the safety of our employees and our users” first, adding that its in-app messaging service would not be affected.
2/ In light of Russia’s new ‘fake news’ law, we have no choice but to suspend livestreaming and new content to our video service while we review the safety implications of this law. Our in-app messaging service will not be affected.
— TikTokComms (@TikTokComms) March 6, 2022
However, the popular platform said, its primary functions would remain offline to Russian users “while we review the safety implications of this law.” TikTok will “continue to evaluate the evolving circumstances” as necessary to determine when it can return to functionality.
The so-called fake news law has scared out a number of western companies since it was passed by the State Duma and signed by President Vladimir Putin on Friday. In particular, American media companies have been sent running for the exits, from Bloomberg to CNN, ABC and CBS. The BBC and Canada’s CBC have also pulled out.
Restrictions previously placed by the EU and US on Russian outlets mean social media platforms are one of the only routes for information from Russia to reach the West. However, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and now TikTok have all taken steps to block Russian media – in some cases even targeting individual correspondents. While these tech giants encourage users to fact-check the information they do receive, it is increasingly difficult to do so without access to the facts on the ground – a reality Twitter appeared to acknowledge by serving up its users a host of posts claiming to teach them how to identify “fake news”.