As a major critic of Facebook and its awful practices, I never thought I would lament the day the social network receives a ban in a country. However, in the light of Russia’s reprehensible invasion of Ukraine and the country’s decision to now partially ban Facebook, here we are. In an effort to shut down free speech, Russia has banned the network, laughably citing “human rights violations.”
Of course, Facebook has plenty of sketchy content and a history of doing bad things, but Russia throwing the human rights card around seems a bit rich. The real reason is to retaliate against Facebook for restricting accounts of Russian media outlets.
Banning the network also has the bonus of stopping Russians from using Facebook to criticize the Ukraine invasion.
Facebook has recently restricted the accounts of Zvezda TV, RIA Novosti news agency, and the websites Gazeta.ru and Lenta.ru. According to Russian authorities, Facebook’s decision violates its Federal Law, specifically No.272-FZ:
“On Measures to Influence Persons Involved in Violations of Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms, Rights and Freedoms of Citizens of the Russian Federation”.
Requests were sent to Meta to derestrict the accounts, but Facebook’s parent company reportedly ignored the requests. Russian media outlets have been accused of propogating state lies, such as misinformation about the invasion. Information within Russia through official sources remains heavily edited.
For example, Russian authorities are largely denying its armies have suffered casualties. State-backed media also falsely accuses Ukraine of carrying out genocidal attacks against its own people.
It is unclear what parts of Facebook are banned or whether the ban is a blanket removal of the social network.
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