Moderation or censure? Russia considers monitoring website comments

A new system of comment moderation may soon be adopted in the Russian internet sector, as officials are aiming to tackle extremism on the net.

The idea is based on the “red button” concept which many websites use to allow their users to report extremist commentaries. After the doubtful comment is reported, the website’s administrators decide if they should delete the content.

The deputies say that many websites lack red buttons or do not react immediately to such alarms, which is why it could be a better idea to set up a brand new portal that will collect all such users’ messages.

All Internet mass media will have to register on the portal, so that the state administrators can monitor how the papers are dealing with extremist comments. Now the site owners are obliged to delete a comment only when they receive an official letter from the Ministry of Communications.

It is also planned to oblige website owners to delete offensive comments within 24 hours. Currently, they have to get rid of such feedback within three days.

The Ministry of Communications is currently drafting amendments to media law. Once adopted, it would set a legal precedent for Russian legislation concerning online media outlets.

The draft’s author stressed that the new law will not deal with social networks. It will only concern commentaries left on mass media sites that contain extremist statements and incitements to violence.

The Russian mass media is not very enthusiastic about the forthcoming change.

“Why would anyone on Earth like to be licensed as a mass medium in Russia? Even those licensed feel like idiots for doing that,” Ivan Zasursky editor-in-chief of the Private Correspondent online paper, told RT. “We will all soon move to another jurisdiction because we don’t want to receive any notices. I would be much safer.”

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