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Facebook is the latest casualty of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attempt to control the narrative around the bloody invasion of Ukraine after the social media juggernaut was blocked nationwide by the Kremlin.
“Roskomnadzor decided to block access to the Facebook network in Russia,” a Russian media outlet tweeted.
Roskomnadzor, Russia’s federal body responsible for overseeing media, has urged all news outlets to only use “trustworthy sources” when it comes to reporting on the invasion of Ukraine. The “trusted sources” refer to state-backed news operations known for parroting Putin’s talking points.
Meta global affairs president Nick Clegg issued a statement moments after the news broke.
“Soon millions of ordinary Russians will find themselves cut off from reliable information, deprived of their everyday ways of connecting with family and friends and silenced from speaking out. We will continue to do everything we can to restore our service so they remain available to people to safely and securely express themselves and organize for action,” Clegg said.
Russia has also accused Ekho Moskvy, one of the country’s oldest radio stations, and Dozhd, Russia’s top independent TV channel which is also known as TV Rain, of “false information regarding the actions of Russian military personnel as part of a special operation” in Ukraine. Both outlets have been forced off the air.
The move to block non-state media left Russians with only social media to rely on for accurate information, but now Facebook isn’t available either.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the administration was “deeply concerned” about the crackdown during her briefing on Friday.
“This is part of their effort as you know to cut off a range of information from their public,” she said. “There are concerning steps they have taken to crack down on any form of information being shared with their public. Certainly Facebook is a part of that. This is a pattern … This is not necessarily a new approach that they have taken, but to crack down on information in their country to reach the Russian people. So certainly we are deeply concerned about this and concerned about the threat on freedom of speech in the country.”
Last month, Clegg said Facebook had refused to submit to Russian government demands not to label Russia state media and encouraged Russians to continue using the tech giant’s apps for organization.
Facebook and other social media have been key organizing platforms for Russians who have taken to the streets over their opposition to the invasion of Ukraine, which has shocked the world as Putin targets civilians with devastating attacks.
Russia-backed news organizations have echoed Kremlin claims that Ukraine was the initial aggressor in the war and that the goal of the “military operation” is to “denazify” Ukraine, whose president is Jewish and had family members die in the Holocaust.
Ret. Lt. Col Robert Lee Maginnis, a military analyst, previously told Fox News Digital that blocking social media in Russia would be part of a totalitarian fear of freedom of speech.
“It is the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent. Expect much worse denial of freedom to follow. This is especially true as evidenced by the Kremlin’s recent decision to clamp down on anti-war protesters,” he said.
District Media Group President Beverly Hallberg told Fox News Digital that Russia’s move against Facebook indicated a fear of its people’s opposition to the war.
“When you have these totalitarian, authoritarian governments that are fearful of an uprising from the people, they shut off their communications,” she said. “Russia is doing this because there is so much pushback from the Russian people. I think the crackdown on Facebook in Russia is a direct reflection that people are not supportive of what Putin is doing.”
Fox News’ Greg Norman contributed to this report.