The Russian communication agency Roskomnadzor announced on Friday that it was blocking access to Facebook in Russia. He cited 26 cases of “discrimination against Russian media and news resources by Facebook” since October 2020, in addition to more recent restrictions Facebook has imposed on Russian state media.
In response, Meta’s President of Global Affairs, Nick Clegg tweeted in response to the move, stating: “Soon, millions of ordinary Russians will find themselves cut off from reliable information, deprived of their daily means of connecting with family and friends, and prevented from speaking out. We will continue to do everything in our power to restore our services so they remain available for people to speak out safely and organize to take action.
The blockage comes after increased national protests against the country’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Russians have taken to the streets in droves to protest the ongoing invasion, prompting thousands of arrests. The regime has denied any plans to institute martial law, but has consistently threatened media outlets that publish critical information about the ongoing war effort, including Wikipedia.
Earlier on Friday, Russia’s legislature proposed a new law against spreading “fake news” about the country’s armed forces, which carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison. Shortly after the bill was introduced, the BBC announced that it would suspend journalistic operations in the country.
Many tech platforms have already started restricting services in Russia. YouTube, owned by Google, has blocked Russian news channels TR and Sputnik in Europe, for example, while Facebook has blocked TR and Sputnik in the EU and stopped recommending Russian state media to the world. Apple has also halted product sales in the country.
More than a million Ukrainians have fled the country as a result of the invasion, according to a recent estimate by the UN refugee agency.
Updated March 4 at 1:58 p.m. ET: Added answer from Nick Clegg from Meta.