Russia blocks Facebook, Twitter over 'fake' war reports

Russian President Vladimir Putin also signed a bill imposing penalties of up to 15-year prison sentences for those who spread information contrary to the Russian government's war narratives.

Updated: March 4, 2022 - 5:15pm

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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday blocked social media sites Facebook and Twitter, as part of wider bill he signed into law criminalizing the intentional dissemination of "fake" reports on the invasion of Ukraine.

Blocking the Big Tech sites follows the Russian government's blocks on the BBC, Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, and Latvia-based website Meduza,  the Associated Press reports. The Kremlin's move against foreign outlets that publish news in Russian is an apparent effort to limit what information is available to its citizens regarding the country's invasion of Ukraine.

Roskomnadzor, the Russian state communications watchdog, said cutting access to Facebook and Twitter was according to a decision by the Prosecutor General's office. Previously, the watchdog accused Twitter of failing to delete content that Russian authorities had banned and slowed down access to it, according to the wire service.

The bill that Putin signed imposes penalties of up to 15-year prison sentences for those who spread information contrary to the Russian government's war narratives.

Reports of Russian military setbacks and civilian deaths in Ukraine have been decried as "fake" news by government authorities, The AP reported. The state media refers to the invasion of Ukraine as a "special military operation," instead of "invasion" or "war."