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Russia blocks Facebook over Ukraine war

Russia has blocked Meta Platforms Inc’s Facebook, the country’s communications regulator says, in response to what it said were restrictions on access to Russian media on the platform.

The regulator Roskomnadzor said there had been 26 cases of discrimination against Russian media by Facebook since October 2020, with access restricted to state-backed channels like RT and the RIA news agency.

Meta had no immediate comment.

The company this week said it had restricted access to RT and Sputnik across the European Union and was globally demoting content from Russian state-controlled outlets’ Facebook pages and Instagram accounts as well as posts containing links to those outlets on Facebook.

Last week, Russia said it was partially limiting access to Facebook, a move the company said came after it refused a government request to stop the independent fact-checking of several Russian state media outlets.

By Saturday, Twitter also said its service was being restricted for some Russian users.

Major tech and social media companies have faced pressure to respond to last Thursday’s invasion of Ukraine by Russia, which has led to economic sanctions against Russia by governments around the world.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation”.

Roskomnadzor said Meta had restricted access to the accounts of state-backed news outlets in recent days, listing RT, Sputnik, the RIA news agency, the defence ministry’s Zvezda TV and websites gazeta.ru and lenta.ru.

It said such restrictions violated the key principles of freedom of information and Russian internet users’ unimpeded access to Russian media.

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