Recently, Facebook was Banned from Russia by the Russian Government, claiming it has been discriminating against local media sources during their assault on Ukraine. This came over just a week after the Russian forces invaded Ukraine on February 24th, 2022, a move that was decried by global governments and prompted multiple sanctions.
Facebook Banned from Russia
The news concerning the block came on the 4th of March, 2022 by the federal service for supervision in the sphere of Telecom, information technologies, and Mass communications, also recognized as Roskonmnadzor. The federal executive agency is the one responsible for the monitoring, controlling, and censoring of mass media in Russia.
“Since October 2020, about 26 cases of discrimination against the Russian Media and information resources by Facebook were recorded,” Roskomnadzor stated (translated via Google Translate). “in recent days, the social network has restricted access to accounts: the Zvezda TV channel, the RIA Novosti news agency, Sputnik, Russia Today, the Lenta.ru and Gazeta.ru information resources.”
The agency stated that, contravenes one of Russia’s Federal laws that was intended “to prevent violations of the key principle of the free flow of information and unhindered access to Russian users to Russian media on foreign internet platforms.” Roskomnadzor has used similar tactics in the past, blacklisting multiple sites that have been critical of Russian Policy in Ukraine back in 2014, during the Crimea crisis.
Meta argued in response to the Ban that the decision would only hurt Russian internet users. “soon millions of Russian people would find themselves cut off from information that is reliable, deprived of their everyday ways of connecting with family and friends and silenced from speaking out,” Nick Clegg, President Global Affairs at Meta said in a statement on the block. “we will continue to do all we can to restore our services so that they remain available to people to safely and securely express themselves and organize the action.”
Internet Access on Russian is increasingly locked Down
Roskomnadzor has also forced Russian ISPs to block services like Telegram, after the messaging service refused to give local authorities encryption keys that would enable them to read communications by users. That backfired, however, when IP blocks also look out multiple other online services, and the agency eventually abandoned its goal.
Today’s Facebook ban is accommodated with numerous online companies that have announced they will be withdrawing their services from Russia, or adjusting what services they offer support for it.
Google has stated that it will cut Russian state-funded media straight from its Google news platform, fro example, Reuters reports, and has blocked multiple Russian financial outlets from Google Pay. Apple has halted sales in Russia, blocked local apps from the App Store, and limited Apple Pay access, the telegraph reports.
On the 26, 2022, meanwhile, Facebook owner Meta has initially first outlined its approach to the invasion that is ongoing invasion. That included extra monitoring for pinpointing and reacting to issues just like misinformation, as well as offering a much simpler tools to lock down profiles.
Earlier in this month, Meta stated that it would be restricting access to the Russian news sources RT and Sputnik across the EU. It also stated that “globally demoting content from Facebook pages and Instagram accounts from the Russian State-controlled media outlets and making them much harder for you to find across our platforms.”
The clampdown from the Russian side, however, has led to concerns from some experts that the government could make use of this as further justification to limit what its population can access online.
As of last April, Time reported, Russian president Vladimir putin was keen on locking down access to information online, with American social networks particularly in his sights. That includes laws that can level significant fines against online platforms and ISPs that host content the Russian regulators deem to be offensive.