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Russia has blocked Twitter and threatened to do the same with Facebook after a clash over “censorship”.

Russia’s communications regulator Roskomnadzor accused Facebook of violating “the rights and freedoms of Russian citizens”.

Facebook said it had refused to stop fact-checking and labelling content from state-owned news organisations.

Internet connectivity watchers at NetBlocks say there is a total or near-total restriction on Twitter in Russia.

The actions follow Russia’s attack on Ukraine with many videos and images of the invasion going viral on social media.

NetBlocks says Facebook and Instagram appear to be running normally but Twitter services started being disrupted on Saturday morning.

User reports also corroborate this.

Circumvention for those in Russia is currently possible using VPN services, which can work around government-imposed restrictions.

NetBlocks Director Alp Toker told the BBC: “Russia’s restriction of Twitter will significantly limit the free flow of information at a time of crisis when the public most need to stay informed.”

Twitter has not responded to requests for comment and Roskomnadzor has not announced actions against Twitter.

It is unclear what the Facebook restrictions could mean if implemented or if other Meta-owned platforms – like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram – will be hit.

The Russian regulator had demanded Facebook lift the restrictions it placed on Thursday on state news agency RIA, state TV channel Zvezda, and pro-Kremlin news sites Lenta.Ru and Gazeta.Ru.

It said that Meta had “ignored” these requests.

Sir Nick Clegg, vice-president of global affairs at Meta, said Russian authorities “ordered us to stop the independent fact-checking and labelling” the outlets’ content.

“We refused,” he said.

But he made clear he wanted Russians to continue to use Meta’s platforms.

“Ordinary Russians are using our apps to express themselves and organise for action”, Sir Nick said, and the company wants “them to continue to make their voices heard”.

Many state-owned media outlets in Russia have painted a largely positive picture of Russian military advances in Ukraine, calling the invasion a “special military operation” that had been forced on Moscow.

On Thursday Meta said it had set up a “special operations centre” to monitor content about the conflict in Ukraine.

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