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Russia blocks access to Facebook and Twitter

Russians can no longer get at information on Facebook and Twitter, and Facebook is banning Russian ads....
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Photo by Shahadat Rahman

The war in Ukraine continues, and so does the battle for access to information: Russian authorities have now blocked access to Facebook and Twitter in the country, citing discrimination against Russian media and sources as the reason for the action

The move announced by Roskomnadzor (Russia’s state communications regulator), via the Guardian and others, comes after US tech companies began restricting access to Russian state-owned news services in an attempt to control the flow of misinformation.

On Friday the Russian government also passed a bill to outlaw the spreading of “fake news” – anything going against its official war narrative. Agencies including the BBC have since suspended operations in Russia to protect their journalists from being arrested.

Nick Clegg, President of Global Affairs at Meta, said the ban meant that “millions of ordinary Russians will find themselves cut off from reliable information” and “silenced from speaking out”. Work will continue to restore Facebook access in Russia, Clegg said.

Changing situation

The situation in Ukraine and the events around it continue to change hour by hour. In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine we’ve seen a whole host of technology companies put a hold on selling their products in Russia.

Russians are finding themselves unable to advertise to the wider world as well. After being banned in the country, Facebook is no longer running ads from Russian advertisers or ads that target people in Russia. Google, Snapchat and Twitter have made similar moves.

Before the latest move, access to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter was already restricted – now, it appears they’ve been blocked completely. Other platforms such as YouTube and TikTok could soon follow as the war continues.

Russia has always had some of the tightest internet controls in the world at the government level, and now its people have a dwindling number of independent news sources outside of state control that they can turn to.

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