By Elizabeth Culliford
(Reuters) – Russia is blocking Meta Platforms Inc’s Facebook, the country’s communications regulator said on Friday, 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’s head of global affairs Nick Clegg said the company would continue to do everything it could to restore its services.
“Soon millions of ordinary Russian will find themselves cut off from reliable information, deprived of their everyday ways of connecting with family and friends and silenced from speaking out,” he said, in a statement posted on Twitter.
Meta 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, Moscow 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 Moscow 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 defense 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.
(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)