Meta has banned Russian state media from running ads or monetising content on Facebook as Vladimir Putin launches a sweeping crackdown on internal dissent over Russia’s unpopular and illegal aggressive war with Ukraine.
Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of security policy, announced the ban on Twitter, writing: ‘We are now prohibiting Russian state media from running ads or monetizing on our platform anywhere in the world.
‘We also continue to apply labels to additional Russian state media. These changes have already begun rolling out and will continue into the weekend’.
Putin on Friday ordered a ‘partial’ block on Facebook, with Kremlin officials claiming it was a response to the tech giant’s ‘censorship’ of its state media. The move came after Facebook limited the accounts of several Kremlin-backed media over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russia’s tyrant is now frantically repressing domestic criticism of the war in Ukraine, with the media watchdog on Saturday ordering media to remove reports describing the Kremlin’s attack as an ‘assault, invasion or declaration of war’, or face being blocked and fined.
In a statement, Roskomnadzor accused several independent media outlets including television channel Dozhd and the country’s top independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta of spreading ‘unreliable socially significant untrue information’ about the shelling of Ukrainian cities by the Russian army and civilian deaths.
Citing a request from the General Prosecutor’s Office, the communications regulator said the media outlets that also include Echo of Moscow radio will be blocked unless they remove the ‘unreliable information’.
‘Roskomnadzor also launched an administrative investigation into the dissemination of unreliable publicly significant information by the above-mentioned media,’ the watchdog said. The offence is punishable by a fine of up to 5 million rubles ($60,000), it said.
The Russian media regulator also said that ‘reliable information’ could be found in ‘official Russian information outlets’.
Putin addresses the nation on the recognition of independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics
Meta has banned Russian state media from running ads or monetising content on Facebook
Rally against the special military operation in Ukraine on Pushkin Square in Moscow on February 24, 2022
Moscow has not so far provided any details of Russian losses in the fighting in the face of statements from Kyiv that they have inflicted heavy casualties on Moscow’s forces.
The invasion of Ukraine is taking place during an unprecedented attack on the Russian opposition, with top protest leaders assassinated, jailed or forced out of 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 have detained more than 1,700 people at anti-war protests across Russia.
Some 1,702 people in 53 Russian cities were detained, at least 940 of them in Moscow and over 340 people in the second-largest city Saint Petersburg, according to OVD-Info, which tracks arrests at opposition rallies.
Meanwhile, Russians are understood to have been warned by authorities that any ‘negative comments’ about Putin’s aggression would be treated as ‘treason’.
Police officers detain a woman during a protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in Moscow on February 24, 2022
A person carries a banner during an anti-war protest in Moscow, Russia, February 24, 2022
Police officers detain a man during a protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in Moscow on February 24, 2022
It comes after human rights advocates warned of a new wave of repression on dissent in Russia as protests got underway.
‘There will be new (criminal) cases involving subverters, spies, treason, prosecution for antiwar protests, there will be detentions of journalists and bloggers, those who authored critical posts on social media, bans on investigations of the situation in the army and so on,’ prominent human rights advocate Pavel Chikov wrote on Facebook.
‘It is hard to say how big this new wave will be, given that everything has been suppressed already.’
More than 150 senior Russian officials signed an open letter condemning Putin’s invasion as ‘an unprecedented atrocity’ and warning of ‘catastrophic consequences’.
The deputies said they were convinced Russian citizens do not back the war and blamed Putin ‘personally’ for ordering troops into Ukraine in an attack ‘for which there is no and cannot be justification’.
Several Russian celebrities and public figures, including those working with state TV, have spoken out against the attack as well.