Concerned Russian government officials have announced they will invest billions of rubles in winning over young people with righteous, wholesome content online. A new fund is being made available to back the saintly project.
Moscow’s federal treasury revealed on Tuesday that an extra seven billion rubles will be handed over to the Institute for the Development of the Internet by the end of the year, taking its funding to a total of 10 billion rubles (over $135 million).
That cash, the authorities say, will be used to bankroll “the production of state-backed content, including material aimed at the formation of civic identity and spiritual and moral values among young people.” The institute has described its mission as acting as an interface between the government and internet giants, and shaping the formation of the online world in Russia.
President Vladimir Putin has previously expressed concern about the potential for youngsters to encounter harmful content online, with little accountability being shown by tech firms. Speaking to a group of teachers in February, Putin said that “these platforms are, of course, primarily businesses … and what is the primary concern of a business? Making a profit. They don’t care if this content or that content causes harm for the people at whom it is directed. After all, these modern IT companies are more and more beginning to control people’s consciousness.”
The national media regulator, Roskomnadzor, has had a series of standoffs with American social media giants in recent months, going as far as to slow down Twitter’s server speeds in the country over claims it was acting too slowly to remove prohibited content. Posts flagged by officials are said to have included calls for minors to commit suicide, others glamorizing of drug use, and material promoting unauthorized protests during the Covid-19 pandemic. The US firms initially said the orders constituted a threat to free speech, but are understood to have since begun working with Moscow to meet the requirements of Russian law.
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