People wait for trains at a train station as they attempt to evacuate the city on February 24, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
Russia's tech regulator decided to block Facebook, alleging "discrimination."
Facebook's Nick Clegg said move is about keeping Russians "cut off" from information and activism.
The social-media platform is working to restore services in the country, Clegg said.
Russia is beginning to block or limit access to Western technology platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, cutting itself and its citizens off from the rest of the world's internet in drastic fashion as the Ukraine invasion intensifies and criticism increases.
The moves are similar to what's been done by China in recent years and is another blow to the dream of a open, global internet.
Roskomnadzor, the country's tech and communications regulator, said Friday it has fully blocked access to Facebook, owned by the US tech giant Meta Platforms. The regulator did not specify if access would also be restricted to Instagram or WhatsApp, which are also part of Meta.
YouTube went down in Russia for a while recently, sparking speculation that the world's largest online video service was being throttled there.
Nick Clegg, Facebook's president of global affairs, said Russia's move served only to ensure that the Russian people were "cut off from reliable information" and "deprived of their everyday ways of connecting with family and friends and silenced from speaking out."
"We will continue to do everything we can to restore services so they remain available to people to safely and securely express themselves and organize for action," he added.
In a press release also posted in English to messaging service Telegram, Roskomnadzor accused Facebook of about two dozen instances of "discrimination" since 2020. The regulator also cited Facebook's recent decision to restrict user access to Russian government-backed news outlets such as Sputnik and Russia Today.
The country's decision to block Facebook comes more than a week after it began throttling, or making it difficult for users in the country to access the world's largest social media service. Clegg said at the time it had refused Russia's demands that it stop fact checking posts about the invasion from state-run media, like RT and Sputnik. Ukrainian officials have been calling on big tech companies to act against Russia in recent days.
Russian access to any platforms is likely to worsen, as connectivity to the internet in the country is starting to be affected amid the invasion. Cogent Communications, a multinational internet service provider based in Washington, said Friday it was cutting off its services in Russia, where it is the second largest carrier in the country. David Schaffer, Cogent's CEO, told The Washington Post he didn't want the company being used for "outbound cyber attacks or disinformation."
Russia's move to block Facebook is similar to China's efforts to create its own heavily censored version of the internet. That effort goes back more than a decade. In 2009, China blocked Facebook as part of a crackdown on protests and riots at the time. It blocked Twitter soon far and blocked Google in 2014.
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