Russia wants Twitter to block or censor some “extremist” accounts, a top regulator said on Monday.
The head of the country’s communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, claimed to ask for 12 “extremist” accounts to be deleted or restricted in a meeting with the head of Twitter’s public policy division during the executive’s first official trip to Russia.
“It concerns not only Russian users. Even if the account has been registered on the territory of Ukraine, this information would be considered extremist as well," he added. "The management of Twitter has heard us, and I hope that these accounts will be deleted in the nearest time.”
In a statement to The Hill, a Twitter spokesman said that claims that the company was banning users or was opening an office in Russia, as some reports alleged, was "inaccurate, as we did not agree to remove the accounts."
The news comes on the heels of a string of moves by the Kremlin to increase its control over the Internet.
Another top Roskomnadzor official recently threatened to block Twitter and Facebook “within a few minutes,” though other Russian officials have since walked the statement back. Russian President Vladimir Putin has also called the Internet a “CIA project.”
In August, a new law is set to go into effect requiring social media sites to locate their servers in Russia and keep Russian users’ information for at least six months. The law would also impose new restrictions on bloggers with more than 3,000 followers by making them legally liable them for the content they post, amid other changes.
Concerns about the Kremlin’s reach have intensified with Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.
-- Updated with comment from Twitter at 1:25 p.m.