Russia’s communications agency Roskomnadzor said Friday that it will block access to Facebook inside Russia, claiming discrimination against Russian media outlets since October 2020. Later on Friday, the agency told Russia’s Interfax news agency that it would block access to Twitter.
A statement from the agency posted online said Facebook has engaged in “26 cases of discrimination against Russian media and information resources.”
In recent days, the Meta-owned platform restricted access to Russian outlets including Russia Today (RT), Sputnik News, Lenta, Gazeta, RIA Novosti, and the Zvezda TV channel, according to Roskomnadzor. It doesn’t appear that TASS, a Russian state-run news agency, has been banned from the platform.
Roskomnadzor further added that Facebook’s ban is against Russian federal law on “measures to influence persons involved in violations of fundamental human rights and freedoms, the rights and freedoms of citizens of the Russian Federation.”
Roskomnadzor told Interfax on Friday that Twitter is now restricted across Russia. Other details were not provided.
Other Big Tech platforms such as Google-owned YouTube have also banned Russian outlets such as RT and Sputnik in Europe following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine starting on Feb. 24.
Inside Russia, meanwhile, the Russian government has opted to ban foreign media outlets including Radio Free Europe, the BBC, Deutsche Welle, and more this week. It appears that Facebook’s, Twitter’s, Apple’s, and Google’s respective app stores were all blocked overnight in Russia on March 3 and March 4, according to reports.
Voice of America (VOA), a state-run U.S. news outlet, on Wednesday said it won’t comply with Russian officials after they allegedly tried to block its Russian-language website unless it removes coverage of the Ukraine conflict.
Several Russian TV and radio stations, including TV Rain and Echo of Moscow, were also shuttered by Russian authorities on Thursday. Russian officials said the outlets violated a law that bans describing the Ukraine conflict as a “war” or an “invasion.”
The deputy editor-in-chief of RT America, the state-run channel, confirmed that the company’s U.S. operations shut down this week. However, it’s not clear why the channel shut down, although a host of an RT show said that it was because DIRECTV and Roku canceled their distribution platforms following the invasion.
“We are sad and disappointed that our groundbreaking channel RT America had to go off the air after more than 10 years, and that the company that supplied much of its content, T&R Productions, had to cease most of its operations, due to challenging external circumstances,” Anna Belkina told The Epoch Times in a statement.
“However, we are working hard to find ways that its staff, which has for many years produced award-winning news and programming content, can remain within RT’s international family,” she added.