TECH: Russia blocks access to Facebook on its territory.

Rus­si­a’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions reg­u­la­tor said it has blocked Face­book from Meta Plat­forms Inc in response to what it said were restric­tions on access to Russ­ian media on its plat­form, more than a week after Moscow invad­ed its neigh­bor Ukraine.

The reg­u­la­tor, Roskom­nad­zor, said Fri­day that there had been 26 cas­es of dis­crim­i­na­tion against Russ­ian media by Face­book since Octo­ber 2020, with access lim­it­ed to state-backed chan­nels like RT and the RIA news agency.

The com­pa­ny said this week that it had restrict­ed access to RT and Sput­nik across the Euro­pean Union and was down­grad­ing con­tent on Face­book pages and Insta­gram accounts of Russ­ian state-con­trolled out­lets glob­al­ly, as well as posts con­tain­ing links to those out­lets on Facebook.

Last week, Moscow said it was par­tial­ly restrict­ing access to Face­book, a move the com­pa­ny said came after it refused a gov­ern­ment request to stop inde­pen­dent fact-check­ing of sev­er­al Russ­ian state media outlets.

Mean­while, the Tass news agency report­ed Fri­day that Rus­sia had restrict­ed access to Twit­ter. The Inter­fax news agency said ear­li­er that the ser­vice had been blocked.

Twit­ter Inc did not imme­di­ate­ly respond to a request for comment.

Meta’s head of glob­al affairs, Nick Clegg, said the com­pa­ny would con­tin­ue to do every­thing pos­si­ble to restore its services.

“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 express­ing them­selves,” he said in a state­ment post­ed on Twitter.

Major tech­nol­o­gy and social media com­pa­nies have been under pres­sure to respond to Rus­si­a’s inva­sion of Ukraine on Thurs­day, which 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 media out­lets in recent days, cit­ing RT, Sput­nik, the RIA news agency, the Defense Min­istry’s Zvez­da TV and the web­sites gazeta.ru and lenta.ru.

He said the restric­tions vio­lat­ed key prin­ci­ples of free­dom of infor­ma­tion and unhin­dered access to Russ­ian media for Russ­ian Inter­net users.

An AFP news agency reporter in Moscow con­firmed that Face­book was not work­ing, but Face­book-owned Insta­gram was still accessible.

The deci­sion comes amid an unprece­dent­ed gov­ern­ment crack­down on inde­pen­dent media and activists since the start of the Russ­ian invasion.

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