Russia Has Banned Memes That "Disrespect" Pretty Much Anything Russian
Russia has a long and proud history of being the butt of memes. But for its citizens, the days of freely creating, sharing, and enjoying images of shirtless Putin riding various animals are over, as the government can no longer tell the difference between dank memes and domestic terrorism.
In early 2019, the government passed a controversial law that makes it illegal for citizens to go online and disrespect Russian religion, the Russian government, or any Russian patriot who has bribed a judge or higher. And that includes posting memes. The government, like your oldfangled grandpa, believes them to be an inherently disrespectful way of communication. First-time meme criminals risk a fine of up to 100,000 rubles ($1,500). Post another image of the agriculture minister with the caption "Hello, fellow kids" and you risk jail time of 15 days.
But this law only codifies a long-running war by the government. In 2018, 23-year-old Maria Motuznaya was arrested, registered as an extremist, and faced six years of jail time for posting memes about Russian nuns. Likewise, Daniil Markin has been under government surveillance since 2017. His crime: depicting Jon Snow as Jesus. This landed him on an extremist and terrorist watch list.
Via BBC"Forgive me, Father, for I knoweth nothing."
That doesn't mean the Russian people are letting the government slide into their DMs to tell them what to do. The first-ever fine under this law was issued to a poster calling Putin "a fantastical fuck***head," and the country managed to come together and make "#Putinisafantasticalf***head" trend on Twitter. Maybe governments should spend less time criminalizing internet snark and more time researching the Streisand Effect.
The Philippine President Spent A Fortune Creating An Army Of Trolls
Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, is what you might call a loose cannon ... in that even a well-secured canon would've been a more sensible leader. Duterte is known for threatening random countries, making rape jokes, and waging a bloody war on drug users with the drive of someone who snorted 20 grams of coke. That has netted him quite a lot of negative press over the years. But Duterte is determined to set the record straight ... with an avalanche of fake news.
According to watchdog group Freedom House, more and more governments are paying internet trolls to manipulate social media in their favor. And nowhere is this more blatant than in the Philippines. In the run-up to his election in 2016, Duterte spent 10 million pesos (about $200,000) recruiting hundreds of professional basement dwellers to fake support for his violent policies and attack his opponents online. And when press confronted him with the scandal, Duterte proudly admitted to it, adding he would've spent even more money on them if he could have -- we imagine while blowing cigar smoke into their faces.
Jeoffrey Maitem/Getty ImagesWe may have mentioned him at some point before.