Russia blocked access to Facebook on Friday, an action the country said was in response to “discrimination against Russian media and information resources” on the platform, amid reports of Twitter and YouTube also being inaccessible in the country.
Russia’s communications regulator Roskomnadzor claimed to have documented 26 such violations on Facebook since October 2020, taking particular issue with the site’s crackdown on state-run media outlets, including the Zvezda TV channel, state-run news outlets RIA Novosti, Sputnik and Russia Today, and the pro-government news websites Gazeta.ru and Lenta.ru.
The Facebook ban was followed by reports of increasingly limited access to Twitter and YouTube in the country, although a Twitter spokesperson told HuffPost the company hadn’t seen anything “significantly different” than the restrictions that began last week. Radio Free Europe reports Apple’s and Google’s app stores have been targeted as well.
“Soon millions of ordinary Russians will find themselves cut off from reliable information, deprived of their everyday ways of connecting with family and friends and silenced from speaking out,” Meta president of global affairs Nick Clegg said in a statement confirming the news.
“We will continue to do everything we can do restore our services so they remain available to people to safely and securely express themselves and organize for action,” Clegg said.
The move is part of a broader crackdown in Russia on potential voices of dissent, focusing especially on media outlets that aren’t directly controlled by the Kremlin.
The BBC and CNN suspended their operations in Russia on Friday after the nation’s parliament passed a law criminalizing the spread of “fake” or “false” news regarding its invasion of Ukraine. Putin is expected to sign the bill on Saturday.
Under the law, referring to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as a “war” rather than a “special military operation,” for instance, could be punished by up to 15 years in prison.