MOSCOW : Moscow announced on Friday that it was restricting access to Meta Platforms Inc’s Facebook, accusing the company of “censoring” Russian media. The move comes a day after Russia invaded Ukraine and is the latest in a string of actions against US social media behemoths.

Moscow has also stepped up its pressure on domestic media, threatening to prevent publications that include “fake information” about its military action in Ukraine, where Russian missiles pounded Kyiv and people sought refuge in bunkers.

Facebook has refused the state communications regulator’s calls to relax limitations on four Russian media outlets on its platform: the RIA news agency, the Defense Ministry’s Zvezda TV, and the websites gazeta.ru and lenta.ru, according to the state communications regulator.

Nick Clegg, Meta’s head of global relations, stated in a statement on Twitter: “Russian authorities instructed us to cease fact-checking and labelling information uploaded on Facebook by four Russian state-owned media groups yesterday. We turned down the offer. As a result, they’ve indicated that they’ll be limiting our services’ use.”

Meta, which has long been criticised for failing to combat disinformation, has partnered with third-party fact-checkers, such as Reuters, to examine certain content for accuracy. According to Meta, content that has been labelled false, changed, or partially false is shown to fewer users.

Clegg said that “ordinary Russians” were using Meta’s applications — which include Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Facebook — to “express themselves and organise for action,” and that the firm wanted them to keep doing so.

For years, Russia has attempted to tighten control over the internet and big tech, which critics say threatens individual and corporate freedom and is part of a larger crackdown on outspoken Kremlin critics.

Senator Mark Warner of the United States wrote to the CEOs of Facebook, YouTube, and other social media firms, saying that the businesses have a responsibility to guarantee that their platforms are not abused by Russia or Russia-linked organisations.

According to Warner, every corporation has a “clear obligation to guarantee that your goods are not used to enable human rights abuses, degrade humanitarian and emergency response efforts, or spread damaging disinformation.”

Google, owned by Alphabet Inc., said it has banned hundreds of YouTube channels and thousands of videos for breaking its standards in recent days, and that it was continuing to seek for and disrupt misinformation operations and hacks. Google is also weighing the implications of any additional restrictions or export limitations, according to spokesperson Ivy Choi.

Users in Russia and Ukraine will no longer see adverts in an attempt to prevent being distracted from public safety messaging, and they will no longer receive suggested tweets from accounts they do not follow in an effort to curb the spread of abusive information, according to Twitter Inc.

It was not immediately obvious what Russia’s Facebook limitations would entail. As a kind of retaliation, Moscow reduced the speed of Twitter last year.

“Starting February 25, limited access restrictions on the Facebook social network will be implemented by Roskomnadzor in compliance with the decision of the General Prosecutor’s Office,” Roskomnadzor stated in a statement.

Russia’s officials have previously expressed their displeasure with Meta. Moscow punishes the corporation on a regular basis for failing to erase unlawful information quickly enough, according to Moscow.

It fined it 2 billion roubles ($24 million) in December for what it characterised as a pattern of failing to erase material. Google, Twitter, and TikTok have also been punished.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *