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Russia cries ‘discrimination’ as it bans access to Facebook

The platform reportedly refused to comply with an order from Russian authorities to block the independent fact-checking of Kremlin-backed media outlets.

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Russia is officially blocking Facebook access after the platform took steps to stop Kremlin-backed media outlets from spreading misinformation about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

The move highlights the repression underway in Russia as its government looks to quell dissent against its escalating war. 

In announcing its decision Friday, the Russian agency that regulates the country’s mass media, Roskomnadzor, claimed Facebook committed “26 cases of discrimination against Russian media and information resources.” No evidence was provided.

Russia began "partially" banning access last week after Facebook refused to comply with the country's order to stop the independent fact-checking of four Russian state-owned media outlets, according to Facebook officials.

Millions of Russians will be soon be “cut off from reliable information, deprived of their everyday ways of connecting with family and friends and silenced from speaking out” as a result of the outright ban on Facebook, said Nick Clegg, the president of global affairs for Facebook’s parent company, Meta.

Banning Facebook is just the latest phase of what’s seemed like a two-way divestment between Russia and some of the world’s top tech companies since the invasion began. 

On Tuesday, Apple said it was no longer selling its products in Russia and that it had removed RT and Sputnik, both Kremlin-controlled outlets, from its App Store in all countries except Russia.

Also on Tuesday, Google said it removed RT and Sputnik from its app store in all European countries, and it's prohibiting Kremlin-backed YouTube channels from monetizing its videos.

Spotify reportedly cut ties with Russia as well, announcing Thursday that it shut down its Russia office, and it removed RT and Sputnik content from the streaming platform. 

All of this comes as Russia continues its crackdown on protests and any media that doesn’t speak favorably of its attack on Ukraine.

Last week, Radio Free Europe reported that the Russian government ordered media outlets to delete stories that referred to the attack as an “assault,” “invasion” or “declaration of war.” On Friday, Russia’s parliament approved a law that imposes up to 15 years of prison time for those who spread information that runs counter to the Kremlin's talking points on the war.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s obsessive onslaught against Ukraine is pushing Russia deeper into isolation and away from the world of Western technology. He’s responding by tightening his grip on Russia’s purveyors of truth and threatening those who don’t comply with his twisted warmongering.