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The Russian state communications agency Roskomnadzor has reportedly restricted access to Twitter.
Tass news agency said Moscow restricted the social media site on Friday.
While the Interfax news agency previously said the service had been blocked.
The regulator said earlier today it had blocked Facebook on its platform in response to alleged restrictions on access to Russian media.
Roskomnadzor said there have been 26 cases of discrimination against Russian media by Facebook since October 2020, including restrictions on state-backed channels like RT and the RIA news agency in recent days.
The move is a major escalation in an ongoing standoff between big tech companies and Russia, which has slapped a string of fines and hampered services with slowdowns in recent years.
Tensions have risen amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow is describing as a “special operation.”
Nick Clegg, Meta’s head of global affairs, said the company will continue to do everything possible to restore its services.
“Soon, millions of ordinary Russians will be cut off from reliable information, deprived of their day-to-day opportunities to connect with family and friends, and barred from speaking out,” he said in a statement released on Twitter.
Last week Moscow said it was partially restricting access to Facebook, a move the company said came after it rejected a government request to halt independent fact-checking by several Russian state media outlets.
On Saturday, Twitter also said its service was limited to some Russian users.
Big tech companies have been under pressure to respond to the February 24 invasion, which has led to economic sanctions against Moscow by governments around the world. Russian state media has become a major focal point between Moscow and social media platforms during the conflict.
Meta said this week it restricted access to RT and Sputnik across the European Union and downgraded content from Facebook pages and Instagram accounts of Russian state-controlled outlets and posts with links to those outlets on Facebook around the world. Tech companies like Alphabet Inc.’s Google have also stopped advertising in Russia.
Russia has taken several steps to crack down on foreign news media in recent days.
She blocked access to the websites of several news organizations, including the BBC, Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, for allegedly spreading false information about her actions in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian government had asked Meta and other platforms to withdraw their services from Russia during the conflict.
Online speech experts and lawyers have raised concerns about the impact of blocking online services on Russian citizens trying to organize or get information.
According to Insider Intelligence estimates, last year Meta had about 7.5 million users on Facebook in Russia and 122.2 million users on its other services, including Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger.
The leading Russian social network VK had 63 million users, the researcher estimated.
Popular VPN apps have been downloaded more than 1.3 million times in Russia since the invasion of Ukraine began, according to data from researcher AppFigures, who called the number a big increase.
Meta was also one of several tech companies to face potential punitive action in Russia after failing to open local offices and take other action required under a communications law passed this summer.
Tech companies worldwide have pulled out of Russia to respond to government requests or to signal support for Ukraine.
US Internet provider Cogent Communications announced on Friday that it is throttling Internet service for Russian customers.
Earlier this week, enterprise software giant Oracle Corp announced it would halt all operations in Russia, while competitor SAP SE announced it would halt all sales in the country.
A Ukrainian government official tweeted both companies asking for support.
Roskomnadzor said in his statement that over the past few days, Meta has restricted access to the accounts of state-backed news agencies, including RT, Sputnik, the RIA news agency, the Defense Ministry’s Zvezda TV, and the websites gazeta.ru and lenta.ru.
These restrictions violated the basic principles of freedom of information and unrestricted access of Russian Internet users to Russian media.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/breaking-putin-restricts-access-twitter-26391271 Putin limits access to Twitter as Russia launches information war on Ukraine - World News