A Russian court fined WhatsApp three million roubles ($37,080) on Thursday for failing to delete unlawful information.
This is the first Russian fine for the app, which Moscow designated as a “extremist” group last year, but the messenger app, which is extensively used in Russia, has never faced sanctions for failing to delete forbidden content.
Other Meta services, such as Facebook and Instagram, which are now banned in Russia, have been penalised for content, as have Twitter and Alphabet’s Google.
WhatsApp, on the other hand, has previously been punished for allegedly refusing to comply with Russian data regulations and storing Russian users’ data on Russian servers.
According to the RIA news agency, the fee was imposed on Thursday as a result of WhatsApp’s reluctance to remove information about the narcotic Lyrica, the sale and manufacture of which are illegal in Russia.
Russis has also penalised the Wikimedia Foundation, which controls Wikipedia, three million roubles for failing to remove “false information” about Moscow’s military assault in Ukraine.
For years, Moscow has struggled with Big Tech over content, censorship, data, and local representation, escalating after Russia pushed its armed forces into Ukraine on February 24, 2022.