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Russia holds off slowing down Google and Facebook - agencies

MOSCOW, May 27 (Reuters) - Russia is not yet planning to slow down the speed of Google and Facebook over a failure to delete content Moscow deems illegal, news agencies reported on Thursday, citing communications regulator Roskomnadzor.

Twitter’s service, meanwhile, has been the victim of a punitive slowdown since March, part of a broader standoff between Moscow and big tech companies to beef up what it calls internet sovereignty.

Google was warned on Monday that it could face a similar punishment.

“There has to be balance in everything. If the threats coming from a particular social network outweigh the benefit of this social network, then more radical measures will have to be applied against them. To date, we think the fines are enough,” Russian agencies cited Roskomnadzor chief Andrei Lipov as saying.

Critics say Russian authorities are looking to tighten control of the internet, threatening to stifle individual and corporate freedom. The Kremlin says it is trying to prevent foreign meddling in Russia’s affairs.

The regulator did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A Russian court on Tuesday fined Facebook 26 million roubles ($353,750) and Google 6 million roubles for not deleting banned content.

Roskomnadzor said on Monday that Google had 24 hours to delete prohibited content or face a fine of up to 4 million roubles.

Lipov said a large proportion of prohibited content on Twitter related to children, which was why it elicited a drastic response from the regulator - a slowdown of the service.

Twitter denies allowing its platform to be used to promote illegal behaviour and says it has a zero-tolerance policy of child sexual exploitation and prohibits the promotion of suicide or self-harm.

Roskomnadzor has said that Twitter has removed more than 90% of the banned content since it slowed the service down in March and its restrictions now only apply to mobile devices. ($1 = 73.4984 roubles)

Reporting by Alexander Marrow; Editing by David Clarke

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