© Reuters. In this illustration, a 3D printed Twitter logo is shown in front of a Russian flag.
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia said on Monday it will extend a punitive slowdown of Twitter until May 15, although it acknowledged that the US social media company had accelerated the removal of banned content. Moscow has traditionally taken a more intervening role in Internet surveillance than neighboring China. But as friction has increased this year over the arrest and imprisonment of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, he has drawn a tougher line. Russia has blocked Twitter’s speed since March for failing to remove content it considers illegal and has threatened to block it entirely. Photos and videos take longer to load for some users. However, in a statement on Monday, state communications regulator Roskomnadzor said that Twitter had held talks with Russian authorities on April 1, resulting in an agreement to give it more time and an acknowledgment that prohibited content was being eliminating faster. On average, Twitter was removing illegal content within 81 hours of receiving a request, the watchdog said in a statement. That is still much longer than the 24 hours required by law. Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Russian authorities have accused Twitter and others this year of failing to remove posts that Moscow said illegally urged children to take part in anti-Kremlin protests. Roskomnadzor says he wants Twitter to remove content containing child pornography, drug abuse information and calls for minors to commit suicide. Twitter denies allowing its platform to be used to promote illegal behavior, says it has a zero-tolerance policy for child sexual exploitation, and prohibits the promotion of suicide or self-harm. After Russia announced the measure to reduce its traffic, Twitter said it was concerned about the impact on freedom of expression. In addition to Russia, major social media companies have been embroiled in a growing number of disputes around the world as governments seek to curb their power.