In Brief

Russia bans Reddit over magic mushroom post

Social network and entertainment site banned after failing to respond to government

Reddit has become one of the biggest websites yet blocked in Russia.

It was banned by censors because of a single post which described how to grow 'magic' mushrooms at home, says The Independent.

Russia's internet watchdog, Roskomnadzor (RKN), is notorious for blocking the sites of political opponents of Vladimir Putin – as well as those showing pornography or extremist views. The Jehovah's Witnesses are also proscribed online.

Now Reddit joins the list after a user posted a lengthy guide, in Russian, to growing psychoactive mushrooms at home.

The post went unnoticed by the authorities for two years, during which time it received just one 'upvote' and one comment from other users.

Because the ban is implemented by service providers, one by one, it comes in gradually. At the moment, many users can still see Reddit and the offending post, which has now received far more attention than it did before the authorities took notice.

RKN says it wrote to Reddit asking for the post to be removed and is instituting a ban because it didn't get any reply – and suggested this may be because Reddit staff are on holiday.

The watchdog said in a blog post: "We assume that the website is simply understaffed during the summer holidays, but this is no excuse to risk [losing] its entire audience [in Russia]." The agency then put its ban into practice.

Last month, RKN issued a similar warning to YouTube, claiming it might block the entire video-sharing site because of copyright-breaking uploads of the popular Russian TV series Fizruk (P.E. Teacher) and Chernobyl, said the Hollywood Reporter.

While YouTube moved quickly to remove the copyrighted material, RKN was apparently unhappy that users could immediately upload it again.

Following its standard procedure, YouTube would not act again until a further complaint was received. If its staff take extended summer holidays, they may return to find Russia has tuned out.

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