The social media giant made the announcement on Sunday March 6, in response to the country’s new controversial ‘fake news’ law, which threatens imprisonment for sharing what authorities consider to be false information.
‘TikTok is an outlet for creativity and entertainment that can provide a source of relief and human connection during a time of war when people are facing immense tragedy and isolation,’ the company said they had ‘no choice’ but to suspend the services.
The platform is not the first company to suspend its services in Russia.
Netflix made the decision to suspend its service in Russia, a company spokesperson said on Sunday.
Last week, Netflix temporarily stopped all future projects and acquisitions in Russia as it assessed the impact of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
‘Given the circumstances on the ground, we have decided to suspend our service in Russia,’ the Netflix spokesperson said.
Netflix had earlier said it had no plans to add state-run channels to its Russian service, despite a regulation that would require it to distribute state-backed channels.
Also on Sunday, American Express announced it is suspending all operations in Russia and Belarus.
Globally issued American Express cards will no longer work at merchants or ATMs in Russia, the company said in a statement. AmEx cards issued locally in Russia by the country’s banks will also no longer work outside of Russia.
The company previously halted its relationships with banks in Russia impacted by the U.S. and international government sanctions, the company said.
Visa and Mastercard have also blocked multiple Russian financial institutions from their network, complying with government sanctions imposed over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
On Sunday, it was reported that PricewatwerhouseCoopers (PwC) is to cut its Russian firm from its global network, according to Sky News, in what the outlet calls ‘the most significant exit so far by a multinational company since the Putin government’s decision to invade Ukraine.’
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday intensified a crackdown on media outlets and individuals who fail to hew to the Kremlin line on Russia’s war in Ukraine, blocking Facebook and Twitter and signing into law a bill that criminalizes the intentional spreading of what Moscow deems to be ‘fake’ reports.
Social media giant TikTok, which is part of the larger Chinese tech company ByteDance, stated that the safety of the app’s employees and users is its highest priority.
‘We have no choice but to suspend live streaming and new content to our video service in Russia while we review the safety implications of this law,’ TikTok said.
‘Our in-app messaging service will not be affected,’ the statement reads. ‘We will continue to evaluate the evolving circumstances in Russia to determine when we might fully resume our services with safety as our top priority.’
Russia blocked access to Facebook for its 146 million citizens on Friday, threatening to punish anyone who spreads ‘false information’ about its invasion of Ukraine with as many as 15 years in prison.