Officials alleged that social media platforms failed to remove calls for children to join the protests. Putin has urged police to act more to monitor social media platforms and to track down those who draw children into “illegal and unsanctioned street actions.”
The Russian government’s efforts to tighten control of the internet and social media date back to 2012, when a law allowing authorities to blacklist and block certain online content was adopted. Since then, a growing number of restrictions targeting messaging apps, websites and social media platforms have been introduced in Russia.
The government has repeatedly aired threats to block Facebook and Twitter, but stopped short of outright bans — probably fearing the move would elicit too much public outrage. Only the social network LinkedIn, which wasn’t very popular in Russia, has been banned by authorities for its failure to store user data in Russia.
In 2018, Roskomnadzor moved to block Telegram over its refusal to hand over encryption keys used to scramble messages, but failed to fully restrict access to the app, disrupting hundreds of websites in Russia instead. Last year, the watchdog officially withdrew the demands to restrict the app, which continued to be widely used despite the ban, including by government institutions.