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25 Feb, 2022 16:30

Russian regulator to restrict access to Facebook

Moscow accuses Meta of “violating human rights” over the social network’s selective censorship
Russian regulator to restrict access to Facebook

Russia will restrict access to Facebook from February 25, its media regulator, Roskomnadzor, said on Friday, citing a decision by prosecutors. Moscow has accused the US tech giant Meta of having breached “fundamental human rights” by blocking Russian accounts, including those of major news agencies.

The move comes a day after Meta-owned Facebook limited access to the official accounts of four Russian media outlets, including the RIA news agency. In total, Facebook has “censored” the Russian media some 23 times since October 2020, the regulator said, accusing the company of violating Russian law.

Roskomnadzor says it had demanded that Meta Platforms lift the restrictions and explain the reasons for the blockings, but its demands had been ignored.

In a statement released on Friday, the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office reacted to the bans by declaring that it deemed the social network an “accessory to” violating Russian citizens’ right to the freedom of information. Facebook has “illegally restricted” access to “socially significant” information through “discriminative” actions against the Russian media, it said.

The authorities will lift the restrictions if Facebook remedies all its breaches and restores access to the media content in question, Russian MP Aleksandr Khinshtein said on Friday.

Moscow has previously fined Facebook over non-compliance with the law. The list of its violations has ranged from breaching privacy laws by storing the personal data of citizens outside the country’s territory to repeatedly failing to delete content banned in Russia.

Facebook has cracked down on media outlets it deemed linked to Moscow, such as the RT-affiliated Redfish, which it censored in 2021. The banning of that account drew criticism from the International Federation of Journalists.