TikTok bans videos from Russia after harsh new laws introduced

Photo by Mario Tama via Getty Images

Social media behemoth TikTok has paused its service in Russia, as the Russian government clamps down on supposed fake news and misinformation about the invasion of Ukraine.

Last week, Russia passed legislation that declared sharing “false information” about the Russian military illegal, with the potential risk of fines, up to 15 years imprisonment, and forced labor. The law has been passed amidst Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and an outpour of criticisms and sanctions headed Russia’s way.

The law passed The Duma (Russia’s parliament) on Friday, adding more pressure on free speech for Russian journalists and citizens. Officially, media outlets can only call the invasion a “special military operation”.

TikTok acted quickly upon this, sharing a statement on Sunday confirming the pause of videos and livestreams on their service from Russia.

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, […] We will continue to evaluate the evolving circumstances in Russia to determine when we might fully resume our services with safety as our top priority

Statement from TikTok

TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, has been a crucial source of information and footage from the frontlines of the conflicts in Ukraine and allowed Russian citizens to share dissenting opinions about their government’s actions. Netflix also recently pulled their service from Russia as a protest move, as major companies isolate Russia further.

The future of press freedoms and individual liberties in Russia are taking considerable batterings, as citizens continue to protest their government’s invasion of Ukraine.