The Kremlin has blocked Twitter usage across Russia following clashes over “censorship”, with Facebook likely to face the same fate.
Twitter Support tweeted this afternoon that it was aware it was being “restricted”.
Whilst Russia’s communications regulator Roskomnadzor made no official statement that it has in fact blocked the social media giant, users and internet connectivity watchers have noted significant curbs.
Watchers at NetBlocks told the BBC: “Russia’s restriction of Twitter will significantly limit the free flow of information at a time of crisis when the public most need to stay informed.”
Meanwhile, Roskomnadzor also accused Facebook of violating “the rights and freedoms of Russian citizens”, following the flood of comments, videos and images that are being shared across the network.
It comes after Meta-owned Facebook said it had refused to stop fact-checking and labelling content from state-owned news organisations.
The Russian regulator had demanded Facebook lift the restrictions on its state news agency RIA, state TV channel Zvezda, and pro-Kremlin news sites Lenta.Ru and Gazeta.Ru. Nonetheless, Meta had “ignored” these requests, reported the BBC.
An important backdrop to this block is the Kremlin’s push last week to get big tech to comply with a new law which required them to set up legal entities in Russia, which in turn would bring them further into the Russian legal system and the demands of censorship.
Whilst Apple, TikTok and Spotify have complied, according to reports from the New York Times, Twitch and Telegram, with Twitter and Facebook only partially complying with the ‘landing law’.
The Kremlin warned that big tech firms could face fines and blocks if they do not follow.
The overarching issue is that it places significant pressure on tech firms, especially the likes of Apple and Google who have a significant presence in smartphones across Russia, as well as hundreds of employees
Russia’s RIA news agency quoted lawmaker Deputy Andrei Klimov stating that the country should retaliate in kind against countries that block the work of Russian media.
He said parliament would review the compliance of foreign IT and social media companies next week, with rules requiring that they have presence on Russian soil, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, the official website of the Kremlin, the office of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was down this afternoon.
It comes after government sites have been targeted by cyber attacks.