In a move that can be filed under ‘ironic,’ Russia has accused Facebook and Google of interfering with the country’s elections.
Roskomnadzor, Russia’s communications regulator, said that the US tech giants allowed political ads to run during regional elections on September 8 despite being warned two days earlier that doing so would violate the country’s election laws.
“During the monitoring of mass media on voting day, on Google’s search engine, on Facebook and on YouTube, political advertising was established,” said the agency.
“Such actions can be seen as interference in Russia’s sovereign affairs and hindering the conduct of democratic elections in the Russian Federation.”
According to Russian media, Aleksandr Malkevich, a high-ranking member of Russia’s Civic Chamber, said that Google “displayed ads for the so-called ‘Smart Voting’ system promoted by opposition figure and video blogger Aleksey Navalny—these ads are said to have been shown to users searching for data on the local elections in Moscow.”
Russia, of course, is well known for interfering in other countries’ democratic processes. The government’s plan to disconnect itself from the internet, meanwhile, hasn’t helped its reputation when it comes to censorship and monitoring citizens’ online activities. Roskomnadzor has also warned Facebook and Twitter that they’re violating Russian laws by not storing data in the country and has threatened to ban Google for not connecting its search engine to the federal database of banned websites.
Roskomnadzor said there would be an “adequate reaction” if the companies published the political ads. The situation will now be “thoroughly examined” by the relevant commission in the Russian Parliament.