Russia Seeks Ban on Foul Language From Social Networks, Dating Sites, LiveJournal

Members of Russia's State Duma are moving to ban the use of foul language from social networks and other sites.

VKontakte looks a lot like Facebook

Social networking sites such as VKontakte (above) may face foul language bans by the Russian government.  (Sources: Paul Irish, Vincenzo Cosenza)

Russia, for what it's worth, has always had a certain veneer towards authority and uniformity.  This dates to even the Imperial era, where the culture among the landed gentry (what little there was between that and the serfs) was deferment to whatever the Tsar was into, be it the Enlightenment or otherwise (the rabble-rousers of the time being the nobility).  In the post-Soviet era that deferment towards authority continues through the constant leadership of Vladimir Putin for 15 of the 22 years since the fall of the USSR, and through his political party, United Russia.  Despite a setback in the form of losing its constitutional majority nearly two years ago, United Russia can still mostly dictate new laws in the State Duma, and thus enforce a certain degree of uniformity in Russian culture.

Now, Putin and his party are using their position to enforce moral standards on the country.  State Duma Deputy Yelena Mizulina is seeking to amend Russia's censorial Information Act, the same act that led to a banned sites registry last year, to include rules that would ban the use of foul and dirty language on social networks, dating sites, and discussion forums.  The reasoning behind the amendment is the same reason for the law itself: To protect children, in this case from growing up corrupt and impure by speaking dirty words.  She is backed by another deputy, Vitaly Milonov, who also wishes to amend the law to tighten access to social networking sites.

While this seems like it would be very difficult to enforce, it is important to understand that much of Russian social media is locally grown.  The two dominant social networks in Russia above America's Facebook is VKontakte and Odnoklassniki, both Russian-based and having a strong presence in other ex-Soviet countries.  It would not be that hard for the Russian federal government to push these laws on the networks to maintain some degree of "purity."  As it stands, the only other western-based web entity of any significance in Russia besides Facebook is the blogging service LiveJournal, which remains incredibly popular for reasons that escape most people.