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Russia to Restrict Facebook Access for ‘Censoring’ Its Media Over Ukraine Invasion

Russia to Restrict Facebook Access for ‘Censoring’

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that his country would partially restrict access to Meta’s Facebook, accusing the company of “censoring” Russian media. The announcement came a day after Russia invaded Ukraine and was the latest in a series of measures against US social media giants.

The Russian government has also stepped up its pressure on domestic media, threatening to prevent coverage that includes what it characterizes as “false material” on its military campaign in Ukraine, where Russian missiles were pounding the Ukrainian capital, and residents cowered in bomb shelters.

Russian media outlets, including the RIA news agency, the Defense Ministry’s Zvezda TV, and the websites gazeta.ru and lenta.ru, were denied access to Facebook by the state communications regulator, which said Facebook had ignored its demands to lift restrictions on four Russian media outlets on its platform.

According to Nick Clegg, Meta’s director of global relations, “Russian authorities instructed us to cease independent fact-checking and labeling of the information uploaded to Facebook by four Russian state-owned media groups,” according to a statement on Twitter. We were adamant in our refusal. In response, they have declared that they would be limiting access to our services.” As a result, Meta has long been under fire for failing to fight disinformation has formed partnerships with external fact-checkers such as Reuters. They evaluate specific material for its accuracy. According to Meta, information that has been classified as false, changed, or partially incorrect is displayed to fewer people.

The firm, according to Clegg, wanted “ordinary Russians” to continue to use Meta’s applications — which include Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger, as well as Facebook — to “express themselves and organize for action.” The corporation wanted them to continue to do so.

The Russian government has been attempting to impose greater control over the internet and big technology for some years. Critics contend that this threatens individual and business freedom and is part of a broader assault on vocal opponents of the Kremlin’s policies.

In a letter to the chief executives of Facebook, YouTube, and other social media platforms, US Senator Mark Warner said that the firms have a responsibility to guarantee that Russian and Russia-linked organizations do not abuse their social media platforms.

Warner said that each firm has a “clear obligation to ensure that your goods are not used to enable human rights violations, degrade humanitarian and emergency response efforts, or spread damaging misinformation.”

It has banned hundreds of YouTube channels and thousands of videos in the past few days for breaking its standards, according to Alphabet’s Google. The company also said it continued to seek and disrupt misinformation operations and hacking attempts. According to spokesperson Ivy Choi, Google is also analyzing the implications of any additional sanctions or export limits for the corporation. “We’re looking at everything,” she said.

Users in Russia and Ukraine will no longer see advertisements as part of an effort to prevent distracting them from public safety messaging. They will no longer get suggested tweets from accounts they do not follow as part of an effort to curb the propagation of abusive information on the platform.

At the time of writing, it was unclear what Russia’s limits on Facebook would consist of. As a kind of retaliation, the Russian government cut down the speed of Twitter last year.

“In line with the decision of the General Prosecutor’s Office, beginning on February 25, some access restrictions on the Facebook social network will be enforced by Roskomnadzor,” the Russian communications regulator stated in a statement.

Meta has already ruffled the feathers of the Russian authorities. Moscow claims a failure to erase unlawful information promptly; the government periodically fines the corporation minor amounts.

Earlier this year, it levied a significantly larger punishment of 2 billion roubles (about Rs. 180.132 crores) for what it termed as a pattern of failing to erase information. In addition, Google, Twitter, and TikTok have all been punished.

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