Russia engages in standoff with Facebook

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Russia engages in standoff with Facebook

Russian Communications Constable Roskomnadzor threatened to “limit access” to Facebook, Friday, February 25. He accuses the American social network of censoring Russian media as well as violating human rights and Russian citizens. “In accordance with the decision of the General Prosecutor with regard to the social network Facebook, from February 25 Roskomnadzor adopts measures to limit its access”the agency said, without specifying the nature of the limitations.

The Russian regulator accuses the American giant of having restricted on its platform the official accounts of the Russian channel Zvezda, linked to the Ministry of Defense, the public news agency RIA Novosti and Russian online media Lenta.ru and Gazeta.ru. The accounts of these state media are not blocked on Facebook; they even have certified accounts there: their pages bear a mark indicating that they are indeed official media accounts. On the other hand, the messages which are published there include a mention warning that they are “Russian state-controlled media”.

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“Yesterday, Russian authorities ordered us to stop fact-checking and labeling content posted on Facebook by four Russian state-owned media organizations, explained Nick Clegg, vice president of the Meta Group, owner of Facebook. We refused. Consequently, they have announced their intention to restrict the use of our services. » In this message, broadcast on Friday, Clegg also says he wants Russian citizens to be able to continue using their apps “to express themselves and organize their actions” : “We want them to continue to raise their voices, share what is happening and organize through Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. »

Nathaniel Gleicher, head of security at Facebook, also announced on Saturday that the group is now banning Russian state media from advertising or monetizing content on the platform. ” around the world “. “These changes have already been put in place and will continue throughout the weekend”he specified.

” False information “

According to Russian media, the Facebook page of RIA Novosti was sanctioned on Friday by Facebook for a period of ninety days, accusing it of having broadcast ” false information “. The Russian state news agency also claims that messages published by Zvezda, Lenta.ru and Gazeta.ru have been “censored” the same day. The existence of sanctions, their nature or the content of the messages that would have been deleted have not been made public by Facebook.

Since the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine, and even more so since the entry of Russian troops on Ukrainian soil, these media have relayed articles which very strictly follow the line of the Russian government, qualifying the Ukrainian government, for example, as “puppet regime” guilty of “crimes”. In Russia, Facebook is less used than its Russian rival, Vkontakte.

“Roskomnadzor asked the administration of Meta to lift the restrictions imposed by Facebook on Russian media and to explain the reason for their imposition. The requests were ignored by the owners of the social networkwrites the Russian regulator. The prosecution, in agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has decided to recognize Facebook as a social network involved in the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as the rights and freedoms of Russian citizens. »

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Arm wrestling to restore messages

The Russian regulator summons Facebook to review its decisions: if the deleted messages are not restored, access to the social network in Russia will be limited, if not completely cut off. According to RIA Novosti, quoting the head of the Russian Parliament’s Information Technology Committee, these measures will not be implemented if Facebook restores access to all messages from the four Russian media that complain about censorship . In hollow, this request also constitutes an ultimatum, warning Facebook against any new deletion of message on Russian public media accounts.

The move comes as Russia caused a major geopolitical crisis by invading Ukraine on Thursday morning. It is also part of a series of measures taken against major social networks by the Russian authorities in recent years, often under the pretext of protecting minors and combating extremism. Platforms like Facebook, YouTube, TikTok and Twitter have been fined multiple times. In March 2021, the authorities had also ordered to slow down the operation of Twitter.

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