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Thursday, Dec 01, 2022

Russia blocks access to Facebook and Twitter

Russia blocks access to Facebook and Twitter

Move to block Facebook retaliates against platform placing restrictions on state-owned media
Russia has completely blocked access to Facebook in retaliation for the platform placing restrictions on state-owned media.

It was later reported that it had also blocked Twitter. The Russian state communications regulator said access had been restricted, according to the state-owned Ria news agency.

Facebook and its sister platform Instagram have removed Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik from their output in the European Union this week and did the same with the UK on Friday, which drew an immediate response from the Russian communications regulator.

The Roskomnadzor watchdog said there had been 26 cases of discrimination against Russian media by Facebook since October 2020, with access restricted to state-backed news services like Russia Today and the RIA news agency. Last week the regulator had announced a “partial” block of Facebook, claiming that the social network had violated the “rights and freedoms of Russian nationals”.

Nick Clegg, the president of global affairs at Facebook’s parent, Meta, said blocking the platform would cut off “millions of ordinary Russians” from reliable information, deprive them of communications with friends and family and mean they were “silenced from speaking out”. He said: “We will continue to do everything we can to restore our services so they remain available to people to safely and securely express themselves and organise for action.”

It comes as Russia seeks to control the spread of information on the invasion of Ukraine and to move against independent news sources. It follows the blocks imposed earlier on Friday on the BBC, the US government-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle and Latvia-based website Meduza.

Meta said on Friday that it was blocking RT and Sputnik in the UK. It followed a request from the culture secretary, Nadine Dorries, in a letter a day earlier to TikTok, Twitter and Meta. Meta has already blocked the news organisations across the EU.

“Earlier this week, we announced that we’d be restricting access to RT and Sputnik across the EU. Consistent with that action, and after a request from the UK government, we will also be restricting access to RT and Sputnik in the UK at this time,” said a Meta spokesperson.

Meta announced on Monday that it had taken down a disinformation network targeting people in Ukraine, comprised of about 40 accounts, pages and groups on Facebook and Instagram.

In a blogpost, Nathaniel Gleicher and David Agranovich, Meta’s head of security policy and director of threat disruption respectively, said the networks were run from Russia and Ukraine.

“They were operated from Russia and Ukraine and targeted people in Ukraine across multiple social media platforms and through their own websites. We took down this operation, blocked their domains from being shared on our platform, and shared information with other tech platforms, researchers and governments,” they said.

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