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May 25, 2022
Russia Bans Facebook, Charging It With Discriminating Against Russian Media
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Russia Bans Facebook, Charging It With Discriminating Against Russian Media

Topline
Amid a crackdown on protests and independent reporting on its invasion of Ukraine, Russian regulators on Friday blocked access to Facebook, saying it was in response to the platform’s decision to limit access to Russian media, as well as to Twitter.

Russia banned Facebook on Friday. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

NurPhoto via Getty Images

Key Facts

Nick Clegg, spokesman for Facebook parent company Meta, confirmed the social media platform’s ban in a tweet, saying it means “millions of ordinary Russians will soon find themselves cut off from reliable information.”

Meta earlier this week restricted access to Russian state-owned media outlets such as RT and Sputnik amid a general Western crackdown on Russian disinformation after the country invaded Ukraine.

Twitter said Monday it would label and limit the reach of tweets linking to Russian state-affiliated news sources, and announced last Friday it was temporarily suspending ads in Ukraine and Russia “to ensure critical public safety information is elevated and ads don’t detract from it.”

U.S.-based tech giants like Apple and Google have also taken action against Russian state media outlets since the invasion began last week.

Crucial Quote
“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 organize for action,” Clegg said in a statement.

Key Background
As the Russian government has aggressively cracked down on protests against the invasion of Ukraine, it has moved quickly over the past few days to shut down independent media outlets that question the state’s false narrative that the invasion was undertaken to combat Ukrainian aggression, while threatening those who spread what it considers “fake” information with up to 15 years in prison. Meanwhile, Russian state-owned media outlets that have long operated in the West have largely been blocked for publishing disinformation about the war. The Russian government has long engaged in a propaganda campaign relating to Ukraine, with outlets like RT falsely claiming Ukrainians were planning an attack against Russian speakers in the Donbas region. Russian-backed cable news network RT America, which started airing in 2010, abruptly shut down Thursday and informed more than 100 staffers they were being laid off.

Surprising Fact
Prior to Friday’s ban, there had been calls for Meta to pull Facebook out of Russia on its own to punish the country, but there were concerns such a move would only further limit Russians’ ability to access non-state information.

Further Reading
Microsoft, Hermès, EA—Here’s The Growing List Of Companies Cutting Ties With Russia Over Invasion (Forbes)

Should Tech Stay or Go in Russia? (New York Times)

Read More

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