Russia Bans Facebook After Meta Demoted RTNews Content

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MARCH 5: Even as Facebook on Friday blocked RT News and Sputnik, Russia’s state-owned media from monetising their content on Facebook and Instagram, Moscow retaliated today by blocking all access to Facebook across the country.

Facebook has about 66 million users in Russia, and the company will suffer a loss of $3.6 million a day in ad revenues, by the blockade by Moscow.

“Soon millions of ordinary Russian will find themselves cut off from reliable information, deprived of their everyday ways of connecting with family and friends and silenced from speaking out,” said Nick Clegg, president for global affairs at Meta Platforms.

In addition to restricting access to RT and Sputnik across the EU, Facebook announced this week that it is now globally demoting content from Facebook Pages and Instagram accounts from Russian state-controlled media outlets and making them harder to find across our platforms.

Meta has also begun to demote posts that contain links to Russian state-controlled media websites on Facebook.

“We already label Facebook Pages and Instagram accounts from Russian state-controlled media outlets so people know where this information comes from,” the company said.

By providing this additional transparency, we aim to give people more context if they want to share direct links to Russian state-controlled media websites or when others see someone’s post that contains a link to one of these sites, Facebook said.

Ukraine’s State Emergency Services has launched an information helpline on WhatsApp. The free service will connect users to critical updates, reliable and trustworthy information, as well as details about emergency response procedures. To use the free helpline on WhatsApp, simply save the number +380676785917 in your phone contacts and then text the word почати (begin) in a WhatsApp message to get started. Ironicaly, Whatsapp which was acquired by Facebook for $19 bllion was founded by Ukrainian-American Jan Koum. 

Since February 23, more than $20 million has been raised for nonprofits on Facebook and Instagram in support of humanitarian efforts for Ukraine.

“We’ve also seen Facebook Groups created to help those in need, including a group of 200,000 Romanian volunteers and donors coordinating transportation and accommodations for refugees,” the company said.

A group of more than 300,000 in Poland is offering housing, clothing, medication and rides from the border to help those in need.

Facebook is also restricting access to RT and Sputnik across the EU at this time.

Tips By Facebook To Keep People in Ukraine Safe

  • Lock Your Profile: This tool allows people to lock their Facebook profile in one step. When someone’s profile is locked, people who aren’t their friends can’t download, enlarge or share their profile photo, nor can they see posts or other photos on someone’s profile, regardless of when they may have posted it.
  • Friends Lists: We’ve temporarily removed the ability to view and search the friends lists of Facebook accounts in Ukraine to help protect people from being targeted.
  • Instagram Privacy and Security Reminders: We’re sending everyone on Instagram in Ukraine a top-of-feed notification about privacy and account security. For public accounts, we are reminding them to check their settings in case they want to make their accounts private. When someone makes their account private, any new followers will need to be approved, and only their followers will be able to see their posts and stories. For people who already have private accounts, we’re sharing tips on how to keep their account secure through strong passwords and two-factor authentication.
  • Privacy and Safety in Messenger: We’ve increased the tools available to Messenger users in Ukraine, such as by quickly rolling out notifications for screenshots of disappearing messages in our end-to-end encrypted chats.
  • Secure Messaging on WhatsApp: As always, your personal messages and calls are protected with end-to-end encryption by default so they cannot be intercepted by any government.

Facebook’s Move On Russia’s State-Controlled Media:

  • It is prohibiting ads from Russian state media and demonetizing their accounts.
  • Will continue to apply labels to additional Russian state media.
  • FB refused an order from the Russian authorities to stop the independent fact-checking and labeling of content posted on Facebook by four Russian state media organizations.
  • State controlled media, like other publishers, are eligible for fact-checking, and FB third-party fact-checking partners can and do rate their content.
  • Ads and posts from state-controlled media outlets on Facebook and Instagram are labeled prominently.