Position is great, but they keep planting for reposts

    On August 6, Mail.ru voiced its position “on law enforcement practice with respect to users of social networks”. It caused a mixed reaction from us. Here we tell why.

    I do not remember the time when the behavior of people on the Internet caused so much violent reaction, noise, absurdity and disputes, as it is now.

    On the one hand, celebrity scandals that you want to see as soon as they surface in the tape. On the other - the courts, criminal prosecutions, fines, terms, and this really gets scary.

    I myself have on the pages are things that theoretically could offend someone. And when you read the news, you get an unpleasant contradiction - fear whether you will become the hero of the next story, or accept your cowardice and quietly remove the “dangerous” record.

    Where do criminal cases come from

    For bad behavior on the Internet in Russia judged by the so-called "extremist" articles. Most of them are concentrated in the 29th head of the Criminal Code. In 2017, 604 people were convicted under these articles - four times more than in 2011.

    Most people - 460 - were convicted under Article 282 "Incitement of hatred or enmity, as well as the humiliation of human dignity." Another 39 people for insulting the feelings of believers, calls for terrorism and the justification of Nazism. More than half of those convicted are under 25 years old. They are awarded fines, forced labor or real deadlines.

    The overwhelming majority of courts begin with posts on Vkontakte, which Mail.ru owns.
    On August 6, the company finally announced its position:
    We are convinced that legislation and law enforcement practice should be changed. We consider necessary an amnesty for unjustly convicted persons who are serving time on appropriate charges and decriminalizing such cases in the future.

    She believes that law enforcement is abusing power, and punished too cruelly.
    We see how in many regions of our country the practice of initiating criminal cases against users for likes and reposts in social networks is becoming popular. Often, the actions of law enforcement agencies clearly do not correspond to the potential threat, and their reaction to the entries in the comments or memes in the tape is unmotivated harsh.

    Despite these words, many have long accused mail.ru of cooperating too much with the investigation. For example, Sarkis Darbinyan from Roskomsvoboda said this in the following way:
    VKontakte implicitly executes the law on the organizers of the dissemination of information - the so-called law on bloggers. It requires the administration of the social network to collect and store all logs, all user registration data for six months. And if Facebook and Twitter are not in a hurry to share this information, VKontakte transfers it to the authorities on demand. And without these data it is impossible to sew criminal cases and prove guilt in criminal proceedings.

    Sergei Smirnov , editor-in-chief of the Mediazone, believes that the reason is not only the cooperation of the social network with the investigation, but also that the investigation itself is easier to work there:
    Notice which users of social networks are usually attracted to: in 90% of cases this is VKontakte. Why? Because "VKontakte" always goes to meet the investigation. And also, and it seems to me even more significant, the operatives themselves are sitting in this social network. They know VKontakte much better than Facebook or Twitter, it’s easier for them to work there.

    Vkontakte responds by saying that they have the most popular social network in Russia, so there are more cases.

    But not even a day passed after the declaration of mail.ru, as in the news again arrests for posts in their social network. Mediazona writes that Tuva activist Oyumaa Dongak was detained for publishing an interview with journalist Arthur Solomonov with German Nora Nass, who joined a youth organization under the Third Reich, in 2014, and illustrated the post with a photo of women waving swastika flags.

    Is it enough to be against

    Like mail.ru, the Russian Orthodox Church voiced its position on August 6, and in words it is also against real deadlines:
    If a person who is being investigated under article 148 admits his guilt, regrets the mockery committed at the shrine, then any believer is called upon to petition for termination of criminal prosecution and seek termination of the case in accordance with Article 25 of the Criminal Procedure Code (“Reconciliation parties ”)

    But on August 15, the trial of Maria Motuzna will take place in Barnaul . Nobody cancels it yet, although Mary admitted her guilt immediately.
    They [policemen] flew into the apartment, showed the search warrant, and it all began. I was confused, didn’t particularly do anything - I thought maybe some kind of joke. I grabbed the phone, and they told me to put it on airplane mode. That is, not only so that I could not call, but also so that they could not. And so they took my phone and computer from me. There was even such a trifle - I had perfumes on the shelf, they turned the capsule out of them, thinking that it was some kind of digital media, says Maria Mediazone.

    She is tried for insulting the feelings of believers (148) and inciting hatred and enmity (282). Two people complained about it to the Interior Ministry when they saw an album with saved pictures in the contact.
    All the images I saw insulted me as a believer, it became very unpleasant for me from those images that I saw. Also, the images of black children, namely the subscription to them touched me, because I felt some kind of hatred and hostility towards them, which were transmitted through images and texts.

    The first hearing on her case was held on August 7, the second will be held on the 15th. Maria’s lawyer is not particularly optimistic.
    I honestly do not hope for acquittal. You have to be a sensible person; you shouldn’t expect a miracle, ”her lawyer said after the meeting. Anything can threaten - from a huge fine to five years in prison.

    Is the punishment too cruel?

    At the end of June, the deputies Shargunov and Zhuravlev proposed to amend Article 282 in order to soften it.
    The purpose of the bill is to establish fair responsibility for committing actions that are insignificant according to the degree of public danger and therefore cannot be considered a criminal offense, for example, “repost” news and messages in social networks and other Internet resources.

    According to them, the number of convicts under Article 282 is growing, and this is alarming, because it can lead to a gap between society and the authorities, and law enforcement agencies turn into a punitive body in relation to all those who disagree. Approximately with the same thoughts Shargunov addressed this summer to the president during a straight line:
    There are some performers who with particular zeal take on the so-called extremism - these are some hosting on social networks, likes, reposts. And this is not about direct calls to violence, which I categorically condemn, but simply about often absurd or harsh judgments, with which one can disagree. But do not pursue the same. Reaches literally marasmus.

    But the Supreme Court does not agree with the deputies . The deputy chairman of the court, Vladimir Davydov, believes that the amendment decriminalizes actions that are currently punishing article 282. And former Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko said that the amendment in general contradicts itself - after all, it says there in plain text that the number of crimes under these articles is only growing.

    What to do with it all

    Of course, to voice a bold position is correct and commendable. But is that enough if your role in the process is so great? The investigation will find offensive posts, reposts and likes and further, and mail.ru will continue to cooperate with it. Just now we know that the company supposedly does it reluctantly.

    Independent analyst Ivan Arkatov commented on the mail.ru statement to the Federal News Agency:
    Frankly, the company's position is quite strange. It has sufficient financial resources to prevent the initiation of criminal cases. To do this, it is enough to acquire a staff of specialists who would moderate and block content that contradicts the current regulatory framework.
    However, this does not happen. Instead of pedaling the adoption of this or that law, the company’s management should revise its approach to organizing its work. This would not only show the care of mail.ru managers about their users, but would also have a positive impact on the country's economy - this is the creation of new jobs. This is what the leadership of our state regularly recalls.

    The introduction of moderation deserves separate discussion. There are pros and cons.
    But if the problem is that law enforcement agencies are abusing power, using vague formulations and sometimes acting absurdly and unpredictably - will moderation help? What will it give, except that for people who are everywhere looking for a reason to find extremists, it will be harder to find these reasons. Wouldn't their actions be more unpredictable and absurd?

    There is a feeling that the problem lies somewhere much deeper than in the fight against offensive posts in social networks.

    This is a paradox - between some people the digital connection is growing stronger every day, and the estrangement from other people who did not fall into the circle of this connection grows from the same thing. A man who is ready to plant for a like seems like a wild alien. He, in turn, considers himself a force of good, a defender of the Motherland or who else is there? And if such people sincerely believe that they are on guard of security, I think we have a long way to understand each other.

    David Foster Wallace asked him to think about it 10 years ago:
    Suppose for a moment that some of these measures really helped to protect our identity and property — are they worth it? Where and when was the discussion, are they worth it? Was there no such discussion due to our inability to hold or demand it? And why are we unable to do this? Have we really become so selfish and intimidated that we don’t even want to wonder if there is anything more important than safety? What future does this foretell us?

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