Russian president Vladimir Putin has signed a law punishing “fake news“, which includes punishing those who “spread false information about the military”, and “publicly call for sanctions against Russia”. In response to the news, TikTok announces that it has temporarily banned new video creation in Russia, while Netflix announced that it is suspending its services in the country altogether.
What is Russia’s “fake news” bill?
Putin’s “fake news” bill will impose fines or jail terms for spreading false information about the military, as well as fines for people who publicly call for sanctions against Russia. The punishments can include up to 15 years in prison.
However, according to Moscow Times, the bill is meant to penalise people who knowingly “distort the purpose, role and tasks of the Russian Armed Forces, as well as other units during special military and other operations.” It includes people who spread unapproved information about Russian war losses.
“…This law will force punishment—and very tough punishment—on those who lied and made statements which discredited our armed forces,” said the chairman of Russia’s State Duma legislative body Vyacheslav Volodin.
In 2019. Putin signed a previous “fake news” law which includes fines and jail time for disrespecting the Russian government. But the penalty was a much lighter 15 days.
TikTok Comms tweeted a response to Russia’s new “fake news” law, and said that Tiktok has “no choice but to suspend livestreaming and new content” to their platform. This means that “all video content” would be suspended. However, its in-app messaging service “will not be affected”.
“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,” TikTok adds.
A Netflix spokesperson also followed suit with TikTok and announced that it is suspending its services in Russia. But unlike TikTok, Netflix is taking an additional step in shutting down its service entirely in the country.
Previously, Netflix announced that it will not be streaming a number of state-run Russian propaganda channels—even though it is “mandated by a new law”. The law requires large streamers, like Netflix, to carry 20 Russian broadcast channels.
“Given the circumstances on the ground, we have decided to suspend our service in Russia,” said the Netflix spokesperson.
Besides Netflix and TikTok, other massive entertainment companies like Disney, Warner Brothers, Paramount Pictures, and Sony have delayed releasing their new films in Russian theatres. This includes the release of The Batman and Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Other companies have also followed suit—like Facebook and YouTube blocking Russian state media outlets.