Meta has banned Russian state media from running ads or monetizing content on Facebook as Vladimir Putin launches a sweeping crackdown on internal dissent over Russia’s unpopular and illegal war of aggression with Ukraine .
Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s Head of Security Policy, announced the Twitter ban, writing, “We now prohibit Russian state media from running ads or monetizing on our platform anywhere in the world.”
“We are also continuing to apply labels to other Russian state media. These changes have already started to roll out and will continue over the weekend.”
Putin ordered a “partial” blocking of Facebook on Friday, with Kremlin officials saying it was a response to the tech giant’s “censorship” of its state media. The move came after Facebook restricted the accounts of several Kremlin-backed outlets regarding Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian tyrant is now frantically cracking down on domestic criticism of the war in Ukraine, with the media watchdog on Saturday ordering media outlets to suppress reports describing the Kremlin attack as ‘aggression, invasion or declaration of war’, under penalty of blocking and fine.
In a statement, Roskomnadzor accused several independent media outlets, including the Dozhd television channel and the country’s main independent newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, of spreading “false and socially unreliable information” about the bombing of Ukrainian cities by the Russian army and the death of civilians.
Citing a request from the attorney general’s office, the communications regulator said media outlets that also include Moscow’s Echo radio will be blocked unless they remove “unreliable information”.
“Roskomnadzor has also launched an administrative investigation into the dissemination of unreliable information of public importance by the aforementioned media,” the watchdog said. The offense is punishable by a fine of up to 5 million rubles ($60,000), he said.
Russia’s media regulator also said “reliable information” could be found in “official Russian news outlets“.
Putin addresses the nation on recognition of the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics
Meta banned Russian state media from running ads or monetizing content on Facebook
Rally against the special military operation in Ukraine at Pushkin Square in Moscow on February 24, 2022
Moscow has so far provided no details of Russian losses in the fighting in the face of claims from Kiev that they inflicted heavy casualties on Muscovite forces.
The invasion of Ukraine unfolds in an unprecedented attack on the Russian opposition, with protest leaders murdered, imprisoned or expelled from the country.
Putin’s war appears to be proving unpopular in Russia, with protesters taking to the streets of Moscow and St Petersburg calling for an end to the violence.
This week, Russian police arrested more than 1,700 people during anti-war protests across Russia.
Some 1,702 people in 53 Russian cities have been arrested, including at least 940 in Moscow and more than 340 people in the second-largest city of St Petersburg, according to OVD-Info, which tracks arrests at opposition rallies .
Meanwhile, Russians have reportedly been warned by authorities that any ‘negative comments’ about Putin’s assault will be treated as ‘treason’.
Police detain a woman during a protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine in Moscow on February 24, 2022
A person carries a banner during an anti-war demonstration in Moscow, Russia, February 24, 2022
Police detain a man during a protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine in Moscow on February 24, 2022
It comes after human rights campaigners warned of a new crackdown on dissent in Russia as protests began.
“There will be new (criminal) cases involving subversives, spies, treason, prosecution for anti-war protests, there will be detentions of journalists and bloggers, authors of critical social media posts, bans on investigating the situation in the army, etc.,” prominent human rights defender Pavel Chikov wrote on Facebook.
“It’s hard to say how big this new wave will be, given that everything has already been suppressed.”
More than 150 senior Russian officials have signed an open letter condemning Putin’s invasion as “an unprecedented atrocity” and warning of “catastrophic consequences”.
MPs said they were convinced that Russian citizens did not support the war and accused Putin “personally” of ordering troops into Ukraine in an attack “for which there is no and there can be no justification”.
Several Russian celebrities and public figures, including those working for state television, have also spoken out against the attack.