Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his address to the nation in the Kremlin in Moscow on February 21, 2022. (Photo: Alexey Nikolsky/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)
Hours after the social media company barred Russians from advertising on the platform, the Kremlin began blocking access to Twitter.
The decision to block access to Twitter comes hours after the country restricted access to Facebook and the government seeks to control the narrative surrounding the invasion of Ukraine.
The Twitter block was first reported on Saturday morning by Netblocks, a digital advocacy group that tracks Internet outages around the world.
“Network data shows that access to the Twitter platform and backend servers is restricted on major networks including Rostelecom, MTS, Beeline and Megafon until 9:00 a.m. on Saturday,” the company wrote on its website.
Netblox director Alp Toker told Vice News that the decision to restrict access to the Twitter platform was expected, but the social media company’s decision to block the ability to advertise on its platform forced the Kremlin to do so. Work.
“While it’s been a long time coming, it seems this tit-for-tat has outgrown [the edge]Tokar said, while restrictions can be circumvented with virtual private networks (VPNs), most regular users will not be able to access these services.
“The restrictions are targeted so that tampering is possible through the use of VPN services,” Tokar said. “However, for casual and non-technical users it will provide some relief.”
According to Statista, there were about 9 million Twitter users in Russia in January 2021.
The company did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment about the government blocking access to its platform, but posted the following statement on Friday night.
“We are temporarily blocking ads in Ukraine and Russia to ensure important public safety information and ads don’t distract from this.”
On Friday, Roskomnadzor, the government body that controls telecommunications and the Internet in the country, accused Facebook of being involved in infringing on the rights and freedoms of Russian citizens.
Facebook spokesman Nick Clegg later tweeted that the Russian government had ordered the company to stop fact-checking Russian state-owned media organizations on its platform.
“We refused,” he said. “Ordinary Russians are using our apps to express themselves and organize for tasks. We want them to keep making their voices heard, sharing and organizing what’s happening.”
Roskomnadzor’s statement did not clarify what the ban would actually look like, but on Saturday morning some social media users began complaining that Facebook’s messaging app Messenger was no longer working.
Toker confirmed to VICE News that Messenger is facing similar restrictions.
The Kremlin is taking a two-pronged approach to controlling the story surrounding the invasion of Ukraine. While at home it is trying to block its citizens from accessing information on social media outside state-run platforms, in Ukraine it is trying to cut off internet access altogether.
On Saturday morning, there was a significant disruption for Ukraine’s Internet backbone provider GigaTrans, which supplies connectivity to several other networks.
obey David Gilbert on Twitter,