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Facebook (FB) Might Get Blocked in Russia Over Censorship

Zacks Equity Research
·3 min read

Facebook FB might get banned in Russia along with other Internet-based platforms such as Twitter TWTR, and Alphabet’s GOOGL Google owned video-streaming platform, YouTube over arbitrary censorship exercised by these social media, per a Financial Express report.

Reportedly, Facebook, Instagram YouTube and Twitter have failed to remove hundreds of URL pages containing prohibited content, as required by Russian law.

Markedly, Russia's lower house of parliament, which passed draft legislation in a third reading, suggested that authorities can target platforms if they have been found to limit information based on nationality and language.

The legislation now needs to get approval from the upper house Federation Council before president Vladimir Putin signs it into law.

The Kremlin in recent years has stepped up its efforts to control the Russian segment of the Internet under the pretext of combatting online extremism.

In February, a Moscow court fined Twitter and Facebook for ignoring a Russian law requiring them to store citizens' user data inside the country.

Markedly, Facebook’s shares have returned 30.2% on a year-to-date basis, underperforming the Internet - Services industry’s rally of 33.6%.

Year-to-Date Performance

Other Tech Giants in Antitrust Lawsuits

This move comes at a time when other countries like Britain are considering rules to regulate these companies. According to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), a legally binding code of conduct backed up by penalties could extend to fines of up to 10% of turnover.

Additionally, Facebook and other tech giants including Google, Twitter, Amazon and Apple AAPL, among many others are also facing anti-trust issues in their home country, the United States.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), along with the 46 states, the District of Columbia and Guam have filed a lawsuit against Facebook, questioning the 2012 acquisition of Instagram for $1 billion and the subsequent 2014 acquisition of WhatsApp for $19 billion.

FTC claims such buyouts to be a strategy to neutralize the threat on this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company’s monopoly power over social media. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Meanwhile, Texas attorney general Ken Paxton has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google for colluding with Facebook in an illegal deal to manipulate auctions for online advertising.

Additionally, a recent leak of internal documents found that Google was proposing actions that would counter the strict EU rules on Internet companies and even lobbying against the EU commissioner.

Last week a Moscow court fined Google for not taking down online content banned by Russian authorities, the latest in a series of escalating penalties.

Moreover, the Department of Justice (DoJ) issued its antitrust lawsuit against Google on Oct 20, suggesting that the company is unlawfully maintaining monopolies in the markets for general search services, search advertising, and general search text advertising in the United States.

Markedly, Ireland’s DPC (Data Protection Commission) imposed a fine of 450,000 euros or $547,000 on Twitter over a bug that made private tweets appear public.

Additionally, Apple’s App Store has been facing backlash from third-party developers over the past year for forcing them to pay a 30% cut and only use the company's own in-app purchasing system.

Moreover, the European Union has brought antitrust complaints against Amazon over its treatment of third-party sellers.

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