The video platform TikTok is restricting its service in Russia. Users can no longer upload new content or share live streams. The reason is a new Russian law that makes alleged fake news a punishable offense.

Changes in the law leave TikTok no choice

Due to a change in the law that criminalizes alleged false information, the video platform TikTok has restricted its service in Russia.

Russian citizens face a prison sentence of up to 15 years if they make statements about the Ukraine war that deviate from official Russian accounts.

In view of the new legal situation, TikTok says it had no other choice but to restrict its service. The company also announced this via Twitter.

The video platform has temporarily suspended the uploading of videos and the creation of live streams in order to protect its users.

Russia blocks Facebook and Twitter

Previously, Facebook and Twitter had already partially restricted their services. However, this step was not taken in response to the controversial Russian law change, which did not exist at the time, but as a direct reaction to the Ukraine war itself.

After the two networks initially announced their intention to restrict advertisements in Russia, the country’s communications regulator has now announced that it will in turn block Facebook as a counter-reaction, according to information from the Reuters news agency.

According to the authorities, there had been several cases of discrimination against Russian media, including the state propaganda broadcasters RT and Sputnik. According to Reuters, Russia had already restricted access to Twitter a few days earlier as well.

TikTok: Law change escalates situation further

The Russian law change augurs the next confrontation between Russia and major tech corporations. Already in the past, Russian authorities have imposed a series of fines on social networks and regularly slowed them down through targeted actions.

The war in Ukraine, which Russia officially downplays as a “special operation”, brought the next level of escalation. Users who contradict this portrayal on social media face horrendous penalties under the new media law.

In response to the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine, Apple, Google, and PayPal have previously restricted their services in Russia. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, TikTok has not restricted its service to date.

The reaction to the change in the law represents a first. Unlike almost all other social media platforms, TikTok does not originate from the USA, but is a subsidiary of the Chinese group Bytedance.