Russia has moved to restrict access to Twitter as its invasion of Ukraine continues. Starting early Saturday morning, internet monitor NetBlocks saw a nearly complete blackout of the platform across all major domestic telecom providers, including Rostelecom and MTS. For the time being, Russian residents and those visiting the country can still access Twitter using VPN services but reaching the website directly is nearly impossible.
We’re aware that Twitter is being restricted for some people in Russia and are working to keep our service safe and accessible.
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) February 26, 2022
Twitter confirmed the reports at 11:51AM ET. “We’re aware that Twitter is being restricted for some people in Russia and are working to keep our service safe and accessible,” the company said.
At the moment, Russians can reportedly still access Facebook and Instagram, but that may change. On Friday, the country’s telecom regulator, Roskomnadzor, began partially restricting access to Facebook after Meta refused to stop fact-checking and labeling content from state-owned news organizations. At the time, Roskomnadzor accused Facebook of violating “the rights and freedoms of Russian citizens.”
⚠️ Confirmed: Live metrics show that Twitter has been restricted on multiple providers in #Russia as of 9:00 a.m. UTC; the incident comes as the government clashes with social media platforms over policy in relation to the #Ukraine conflict 📉
📰 Report: https://t.co/ihPX8fb86s pic.twitter.com/nGrcHzjIXd
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) February 26, 2022
It’s unclear why Russia has moved to block Twitter, but all the videos of the conflict you see on the platform may have played a part in the decision. For instance, Russia claims its airstrikes haven’t targeted civilian infrastructure, but several widely circulated videos appear to show otherwise. Those clips and others would appear to paint a picture of the invasion that is quite different from the one Russian-state media has pushed.
"Russia's restriction of Twitter will significantly limit the free flow of information at a time of crisis when the public most needs to stay informed," NetBlocks director Alp Toker told the BBC.