The fine of 7.2 billion rubles ($98 million) is record-setting, compared to previous fines imposed on U.S. social media companies. However, the immense fine also aims to send a forceful warning to violators.
Russia has repeatedly accused Google of ignoring its laws on obscenity. This dramatically escalates its continuing battle against major U.S.-based Big Tech companies. State media regulator Roskomnadzor has ordered the removal of pornographic materials aside from posts that supposedly promotes drugs and suicide.
Kremlin officials and Roskomnadzor have accused Google with bolstering politically rebellious messaging with the intention of stirring up protests in backing jailed dissident Alexei Navalny.
This isn't the first time that Google has clashed with Russian authorities over content laws. Last May, Russia's media regulator threatened to slow down the speed of Google if it failed to remove 26,000 cases of unlawful content, which it said connected to drugs, violence and extremism.
President Vladimir Putin has already launched the so-called sovereign internet that will give the government more jurisdiction over what its people can access. (Related: Russia slams cheating Google with new anti-trust charges.)
Russia has also blamed Big Tech for being a secret hand of U.S. foreign policy inside Russia and promoting dubious content like transgenderism among Russian youth.
Sexually explicit and corrupting data being offered to minors is illegal under current Russian law.
The Moscow Times, giving its comment on how the court arrived at this high figure, said that the Moscow magistrate’s court made the decision under a legal clause that allows courts to impose between five and 10 percent of a company’s turnover, according to RIA Novosti, Russia’s state-run news agency.
"We’ll study the court documents and then decide on next steps," Google said in a press statement given to the AFP.
Facebook, including its parent company Meta, and Twitter are also facing ‘symbolic fines’ over related charges of failing to take out content.
Meta has been slapped with a 2 million rubles ($27.1 million) fine while Twitter was given a fine of 3 million rubles ($40.6 million) after authorities began controlling its services.
Facebook and Twitter recommendation algorithms promoted social disharmony in Russia and were warned by Russian authorities that they will be shut off based on current law according to an earlier report from GreatGameIndia.
Kremlin state authorities, however, are not expected to totally block the three social media platforms because of their huge popularity among the Russian public since this may cause a massive backlash.
A secret blacklist of ‘dangerous individuals and organizations’ was recently leaked in Facebook and it showed over 4,000 entries of individuals sanctioned by the U.S. as terrorists, historical villains, cartels, militia groups, and dissidents.
An accidentally unsealed court document has also shown that the U.S. government is secretly directing Google to give data on anyone typing in certain search terms. There are already fears that "keyword warrants" endanger innocent Web users who may be charged with serious crimes.
Meanwhile, FactCheck.org, an independent fact-checker website, has been revealed to be backed by the same $1.9 billion vaccine lobby organization that it was assumed to check.
FactCheck.org is a Facebook partner whose articles are employed to suppress critical voices on the social media platform and the site is led by a former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director.
Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pronounced that Facebook has attacked Australia and that the government will not be bullied by Facebook’s threats.
Other countries from the world have united in starting a global war against the threats from Big Tech.
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