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25 Feb, 2022 21:23

Meta sends message to ‘ordinary Russians’

Facebook’s parent company has openly said it wants Russians to continue using its apps to “organize for action”
Meta sends message to ‘ordinary Russians’

Meta VP for Global Affairs Nick Clegg said on Friday that his company wants Russians to use Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp to “make their voices heard” as they “organize for action.” Earlier, regulators in Moscow restricted access to Facebook over the company’s censorship of Russian media outlets.

“Ordinary Russians are using our apps to express themselves and organize for action. We want them to continue to make their voices heard, share what’s happening, and organize through Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger,” Clegg wrote.

According to Clegg, Russian authorities on Thursday ordered Meta to “stop the independent fact-checking and labelling of content posted on Facebook” by four Russian news outlets, and restricted access to Meta’s apps when the company refused. 

Regulator Roskomnadzor, however, accused the tech giant of having “censored” the Russian media some 23 times since October 2020, in violation of Russian law. When Facebook refused to lift labeling and search restrictions on the four outlets – the Zvezda TV channel, RIA Novosti news agency, Lenta.ru, and Gazeta.ru – Roskomnadzor took action to slow traffic to Facebook.

It is unclear whether Roskomnadzor intends to similarly throttle traffic to Meta’s other apps, and the statement by the regulatory body does not elaborate on the prospect.

The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office reacted to Facebook’s actions 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.

Clegg’s statement did not make clear what kind of “action” he hopes Russians organize on Meta’s platforms, though he may have been referring to anti-war protests seen in recent days in Moscow and other Russian cities.