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Russia bans Facebook – POLITICO

Russian authorities blocked access to Facebook on Friday, claiming the world’s largest social media company broke the country’s rules by restricting online access to state-backed media.

The decision by Russia’s media and telecoms regulator is the latest step in a rapidly escalating standoff between Western tech companies and the Kremlin.

After the Russian military’s reluctance to invade Ukraine last week, companies including Meta, Google and Twitter, Facebook’s parent company, have subsequently blocked access to Russian state-owned media within the EU. They have also removed ads from Kremlin-backed outlets and downgraded their content in online searches.

“This is a most extraordinary and tragic state of affairs, which is why not only ourselves but many others in the technology sector are taking these rather extraordinary actions at this time,” Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, told reporters this week.

After the ban was announced, Clegg, the former UK Deputy Prime Minister, called Russian citizens would be “barred from speaking out” and the company would work to reconnect its services within Russia.

Social media platforms have tried to balance demands from Western governments to remove Kremlin disinformation from their platforms while remaining accessible to Russian users to provide them with independent information about the war in Ukraine.

The Russian government quickly hit back. It has stifled access to these Western social media platforms, but its outright ban on Facebook marks an escalation in the Kremlin’s response to Silicon Valley efforts to prevent the spread of Russian propaganda.

“Since October 2020, 26 cases of discrimination against Russian media and information resources by Facebook have been registered,” Russia’s regulator Roskomnadzor said in a statement. “A decision has been made to block access to the Facebook network in the Russian Federation.”

This article is part of POLITICSPremium Tech Policy coverage: Pro Technology. Our expert journalism and suite of policy intelligence tools enable you to seamlessly search, track and understand the developments and stakeholders shaping EU technology policy and driving decisions that impact your industry. E-mail [email protected] with the code “TECH” for a free trial.

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Fry Electronics Team

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