Russia blocked access to Facebook, Twitter and several foreign news sites on Friday. Russia’s Parliament also passed new restrictions on contradicting Moscow’s war narrative.
The new restrictions ban spreading “false information” about the Russian military and “discrediting” Russia’s use of military force in Ukraine, with penalties including up to 15 years in prison.
The state communications watchdog Roskomnadzor said it cut access to Twitter and Facebook in line with a decision by the prosecutor general’s office. The watchdog has previously accused Twitter of failing to delete the content banned by Russian authorities and slowed down access to it.
Twitter said in a statement Friday afternoon that while the company is “aware of reports” that its platform is blocked in Russia, it has not been able to confirm whether this is the case.
Nick Clegg, who is Vice-President of Global Affairs for Meta, responded by saying, “We are doing everything we can to get our services back up and running” but that “millions of ordinary Russians will soon find that they are no longer able to access reliable information.”
In a press briefing that took place on Friday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki responded to the decision to crack down on Facebook.
According to Psaki, “This is part of their effort, as you know, to cut off a range of information from their public,” he said, pointing out that Russia has taken steps to stop the flow of information about the war in Ukraine. It is a pattern. This doesn’t have to be a new approach the government has taken, but it does seem to be a trend.
The question regarding Russia is no longer “what we do to stop disinformation” former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul said on Friday. “The question has to be how do we promote information inside Russia, and I don’t have the answer.” He acknowledged
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: THE MOSCOW TIMES