A week after introducing partial restrictions on Facebook, the Russian government announced Friday that it would begin blocking the social network in the country outright.
Russia’s internet regulatory agency Roskomnadzor cited “26 cases of discrimination against Russian media and information resources” in the decision to cut off access to the world’s largest social platform, echoing its prior complaints that the company imposed restrictions on state-affiliated media outlets.
“In recent days, the social network has restricted access to accounts: the Zvezda TV channel, the RIA Novosti news agency, Sputnik, Russia Today, the Lenta.ru and Gazeta.ru information resources,” the Russian agency wrote.
“The above restrictions are prohibited by Federal Law No. 272-FZ ‘On measures to influence persons involved in violations of fundamental human rights and freedoms, the rights and freedoms of citizens of the Russian Federation,’ adopted, among other things, to prevent violations of the key principles of the free flow of information and unhindered access Russian users to Russian media on foreign Internet platforms.”
Meta President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg, formerly a deputy prime minister in the U.K., tweeted a statement about the Russian announcement Friday.
Earlier this week, Meta announced that it would limit the reach of Russian state-linked media across Facebook and Instagram, making it more difficult for those accounts to spread messages shaped by the Russian government.
The Russian government’s crackdown on Facebook comes as protests against the country’s bloody invasion of neighboring Ukraine build momentum domestically. In light of the spreading dissent, Russia’s parliament passed new legislation Friday introducing intense repercussions for anyone found to be deliberately spreading “fake” information about the country’s activities in Ukraine, including lengthy prison sentences stretching up to 15 years.
It’s not immediately clear if Russia’s new actions against Facebook will also restrict access to other Meta-owned apps like WhatsApp and Instagram, but considering that those services can be used to organize protests and share information from non-Russian news sources, that outcome seems likely.