Facebook, Meta Platforms, and Twitter have been banned in Russia as Russian internet services block foreign media. Earlier on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill introducing a prison sentence of up to 15 years for those spreading information that goes against the Russian government’s claims and approximation on and of the Russo-Ukrainian War. The bill criminalized intentional spreading of false reporting about the war, later drafted by Russian parliament. It proposes sentences of up to 3 years or fines for spreading false news about the military, maximum punishments rise to 15 years for cases where the false reporting led to “severe consequences.”. TASS, Russian news, reported that Putin also signed a law that would hold criminally responsible those who called for sanctions against Russia
Following the signing Roskomnadzor, the Russian state communications internet watchdog, blocked Facebook and 5 foreign media organizations and outlets publishing in Russia that are based abroad. On Facebook it cited 26 cases “discrimination” of the Russian media and state information resources. Later saying in a statement that the ban by Meta, Facebook’s parent company, on Russian news channel RT and other Russian state-controlled media entities was a violation of Russian law. Twitter said earlier on Monday it would label and limit the reach of tweets connected to Russian state-affiliated news sources and suspend ads. RT broadcasts from mainland Europe have been taken off air and CNN reported on Thursday that the United States branch of RT is effectively shutting down.
Other main foreign media organizations blocked: U.S state-owned Voice of America and U.S-Funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, THE BBC, German-owned Deutsche Welle, and Latvian based Meduza.
Russia claimed these 5 foreign media organizations above had published “false information” on subjects including “the methods of carrying out combat activities (attacks on civilians/civil infrastructure), the numbers of losses of the Russian Federation Armed Forces and victims among the civilian population.” Meta’s president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, responded that, “millions of ordinary Russians will find themselves cut off from reliable information, 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 our services so they remain available to people to safely and securely express themselves and organize for action,”.
The BBC has said all their journalists in Russia have stopped working but they will continue to broadcast Russian language news service outside the country per Director-General Tim Davie. Earlier the BBC posted online how to circumvent the block by various methods for Russian citizens as well as referring back to a “dark web” Tor mirror that was launched in 2019 per BBC News. Deutsche Welle posted a statement to Russians on its German website, urging readers to get around the block too. U.S state-owned Voice of America said in a statement that audiences in Russia deserved access to factual news content and it would continue to support tools that allow them to bypass any blocking efforts. While not targeted yet, since the war started U.S.-based tech giants like Apple and Google have also taken action against Russian state media outlets. CNN will stop broadcasting in as well according to a tweet from CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy.