Memes. They can derail a serious online debate, provide a few laughs, or at worst, roll your eyes. Either way, they’re about as serious as a joke, but in Russia there’s apparently only so much you’re allowed to do with a meme.
Currently in Russia, it’s illegal to post a meme that depicts a public personality in a fashion that has nothing to do with his “personality,” reports The Washington Post (TWP).
I’m guessing that is a fair chunk of the memes out there, and I’ve gone easy with the top image, I don’t think that’ll offend anyone.
But in Russia, a public figure can report an offending website or meme to the Roskomnadzor, which is agency in charge of media and Internet censorship.
How it works is that websites are basically told they either can block the offending content in Russia themselves, or their site will get get blocked. Cases can also go to court, as seen recently with Russian singer Valeri Syutkin being upset about a meme on a website.
It’s unclear how this will be enforced overall though, and it might be a bit of a beat up.
All jokes aside though, there has been increasing government control of the Internet in Russia.
Social media and websites that have parody at their heart are illegal under Russian law, says the Express.
In August of last year, Russia passed laws where anyone with a blog needs to register with Roskomnadzor. A year ago, the Roskomnadzor was granted powers that enable it to unilaterally block websites with zero explanation needed to be given.
According to TWP article, it was those sites owned by critics of Vladimir Putin that were the first to disappear.