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Russia Partially Restricts Access to Facebook

Russian officials accused the social network of censoring media outlets in the country. But Facebook says the government demanded it stop fact-checking.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The Russian government says it's partially restricting access to Facebook, a move it took after claiming the social network had censored some Russian media outlets. 

In a statement Friday, Russia's communications regulator accused Facebook of violating "fundamental human rights" by allegedly restricting the official accounts of four Russian media outlets on its platform.

In a statement posted to Twitter on Friday, Facebook executive Nick Clegg said the social network refused to give in to Russian demands that it stop fact-checking and labeling content posted by the media outlets. 

"Yesterday, Russian authorities ordered us to stop the independent fact-checking and labelling of content posted on Facebook by four Russian state-owned media organizations," said Clegg. "We refused. As a result, they have announced they will restrict the use of our services." 

Clegg, who is president of global affairs for Facebook parent Meta, said the company wants ordinary Russians to continue to make their voice heard on its apps. 

The Russian government's measure to "protect Russian media" comes as the country's military continues its invasion of Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the start of a "special military operation" in Ukraine early Thursday. Shortly after, explosions were reported in multiple cities, including Kyiv, the country's capital.

US President Joe Biden, along with other international leaders, has unveiled sweeping economic sanctions against Russia in response to the attacks. 

The extent of the Russian government's restrictions and their impact on Facebook and Meta's operations in the country wasn't immediately clear.