Russia is ramping up efforts to control the narrative over its invasion of Ukraine online and over the airwaves. Tech giants, however, are fighting back. Facebook’s owner Meta and Alphabet Inc’s Google have both put restrictions on Russia’s state-controlled media outlets in Ukraine and around the world.
On Friday, Russia said it would partially restrict Facebook, a move Meta said came after it refused a government request to stop the independent fact-checking of several Russian state media outlets. Images and videos were slower to load on Facebook after the move was announced, according to users, while Facebook Messenger had long periods of not loading at all.
The escalation of Russia’s clash with big tech comes days before a deadline Moscow set for major foreign tech companies to comply with a new law that requires them to set up official representation in the country, which could make it easier for the Kremlin to regulate platforms.
It follows a series of fines and slowdowns imposed on platforms that the Russian government said failed to remove illegal content. Twitter, which banned ads from state-backed media in 2019, said it was pausing all ads in Russia and Ukraine to ensure the visibility of public safety information. Google, the world’s biggest ad seller, also said it was not allowing Russian state media to sell ads using its tools.