Russia partially restricts access to Facebook over censorship claims

Meta reportedly limited official accounts of Kremlin-backed media outlets.

Dado Ruvic / reuters

Russia is partially restricting access to Facebook. Telecom regulator Roskomnadzor says the move is in response to parent company Meta "restricting" the accounts of four Kremlin-owned media outlets. It said Meta was violating Russian law by doing so.

Roskomnadzor demanded an explanation and told Meta to remove the measures on Thursday. After the company refused, officials decided to restrict access to Facebook, a move Roskomnadzor says is in accordance with the law. The watchdog claims to have recorded 23 cases of "such censorship of Russian media and Internet resources by Facebook" since October 2020 (per a Google Translate version of its announcement).

The extent of these restrictions is not yet clear. Nick Clegg, Meta's president of global affairs, said authorities told it to "stop the independent fact-checking and labelling of content posted on Facebook by four Russian state-owned media organizations. We refused. As a result, they have announced they will be restricting the use of our services."

Clegg added that "Russians are using Meta's apps to express themselves and organize for action. We want them to continue to make their voices heard, share what’s happening, and organize through Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger."

Reports suggest Russia tried to spread propaganda and misinformation for weeks in the lead up to its invasion of Ukraine. According to NBC News, experts expect the level of disinformation to increase significantly.

As the invasion began on Thursday, Facebook enabled its "lock profile" tool in Ukraine to help residents protect their accounts. Twitter's Safety team, meanwhile, shared some tips in Ukrainian on how to keep accounts secure.

Update 2/25 1:53PM ET: Added Nick Clegg's statement.