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Russia has officially blocked access to Facebook, marking the latest crackdown on social media platforms and independent media in the country since the outbreak of war in Ukraine.

In a statement explaining its decision on Friday, Roskomnadzor, Russia’s media watchdog, said Meta-owned Facebook discriminated against Russian state-run and funded media by imposing restrictions on media accounts such as Russia Today and the Russian military TV channel Zvezda.

“Since October 2020, there have been 26 cases of discrimination against Russian media and information resources by Facebook,” the state censorship body said.

Following the decision, Nick Clegg, President of Global Affairs at Facebook, said that “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 speak out”.

He added that the company would do “everything in its power to restore our services” to allow users to express themselves and “organize for a

Over the past year, Russia has regularly threatened sanctions such as fines and slowing or closing access to social media platforms, to get them to restore or restrict content. He has imposed numerous fines on Facebook in recent months.

But restrictions have intensified sharply since the start of the war in Ukraine last month. Big Tech has been increasingly drawn into the information battle that raged after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.

Roskomnadzor also shut down major local liberal media such as Echo of Moscow and TV Rain, while others like the BBC had their websites blocked.

Facebook, owned by Meta, as well as YouTube, Twitter, Apple and Google’s TikTok all announced this week that they would remove RT and Sputnik from their platforms in the EU.

Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have also applied labels to Kremlin-backed media for users outside the EU, and suspended outlets’ ability to make money from advertising that accompanies their content. .

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