Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday decided to block access to Facebook and Twitter in retaliation to the platforms placing restrictions on Russian state-owned media and signed a new bill that criminalizes the intentional spreading of what Moscow deems to be ‘fake reports’.
Earlier, Kremlin had already put restrictions on the access to BBC and other western media outlets, including Voice of America.
Roskomnadzor, the state communications watchdog, said it cut access to Twitter and Facebook in line with a decision by the office of the prosecutor general.
The watchdog had previously accused Twitter of failing to delete the content banned by Russian authorities and slowed down access to the micro-blogging site.
Roskomnadzor also said that there had been 26 cases of discrimination against Russian media by Facebook since October 2020, with access restricted to state-backed news services like Russia Today and the RIA news agency.
Global media response
Global news media said they were suspending reporting in Russia to protect their journalists after the new law threatened jail terms of up to 15 years for spreading ‘fake news.’
Nick Clegg, the president of global affairs at Facebook’s parent, Meta, said blocking the platform would cut off “millions of ordinary Russians” from reliable information, deprive them of communications with friends and family and mean they were “silenced from speaking out”.
On the Russian government's decision to block access to Facebook in the Russian Federation: pic.twitter.com/JlJwIu1t9K
— Nick Clegg (@nickclegg) March 4, 2022
“We will continue to do everything we can to restore our services so they remain available to people to safely and securely express themselves and organize for action,” Clegg said.
However, Twitter said in a statement Friday afternoon that while the company is aware of reports that Russia has blocked access to it, it has not been able to confirm whether this is the case.