Russia has completely blocked access to Facebook, the country’s media regulator said Friday as it accused the site of “discrimination” against state propaganda sites.
The move comes as Vladimir Putin’s government cracks down on dissent amid his brutal invasion of Ukraine. It also comes days after Facebook owner Meta blocked access to Russian state propaganda outlets RT and Sputnik in the European Union.
In response, Facebook said it would do everything it could to restore service in Russia.
“Soon, millions of people will find themselves cut off from reliable information, deprived of their everyday ways of connecting with family and friends and silenced from speaking out,” said Nick Clegg, the president of global affairs for Facebook’s parent company, Meta.
Clegg, a former deputy prime minister of the UK, said Facebook would work to restore service to the country so its users could “safely and securely express themselves and organize for action.”
Meanwhile, Russia’s state media regulator, Roskomnadzor, claimed in a statement that 26 cases of “discrimination against Russian media and information resources” had been logged against Facebook.
“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,” the regulator claimed. “The above restrictions are prohibited by federal law,” Roskomnadzor said.
While Volodymyr Zelensky was not mentioned in the statement, the Ukrainian president has used Facebook to share videos giving updates on the war and urge Putin to withdraw his troops.
Internet-famous Russians including the influencer daughters of politicians and oligarchs have also used Meta-owned Instagram to speak out against Russia’s invasion.
Prior to Friday’s ban, Russia had also shut down several independent media outlets and “throttled” social media sites including Facebook and Twitter.
It was not immediately clear if Instagram was also affected by Friday’s ban. Facebook parent company Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment.