Russia has apparently rendered Facebook largely unusable across leading Russian telecommunications providers amid protests by war resisters within the country.
Russia is also entangled in rising friction with the social media platform.
The London-based internet monitor NetBlocks reports that Facebook’s network of content-distribution servers in Russia was so badly restricted on Sunday that “content no longer loads, or loads extremely slowly making the platforms unusable.”
Russian telecoms regulator Roskomnadzor on Friday announced plans to “partially restrict” access to Facebook.
That same day, Facebook’s head of security policy had said the company was barring Russian state media from running ads or otherwise profiting on its platform anywhere in the world.
Facebook says it has also refused a request by the Kremlin not to run fact checks related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the platform for users inside Russia
NetBlocks reported earlier that access to Twitter was similarly restricted Saturday. That was a day after Twitter said it was temporarily halting ads in both Ukraine and Russia.
The Twitter and Facebook restrictions can be circumvented inside Russia using VPN software, just as users do in mainland China.
The disabling of Facebook comes as Russian authorities cracked down on war resisters in the country.
The authorities have detained a total of 5,794 people for participating in unsanctioned anti-war protests across the country, since the Kremlin ordered an invasion of Ukraine, independent monitoring site OVD-Info said on Sunday.
As of 3 p.m. ET, 2,650 people had been detained for protesting in 51 cities throughout the country, OVD-Info also reported, and 1,225 were detained in Moscow alone.
Under Russian law, large demonstrations require protesters apply for a permit, which has to be submitted no more than 15 but no less than 10 days before the event.
Heavy fines — and in some cases even prison time — can be imposed on those who protest without a permit.
Individuals are allowed to stage “single pickets,” which are solo protests but it is not unheard of for people to be detained for those as well.
On Thursday, Russia’s Investigative Committee warned that participation in any anti-war protest was illegal.
It also said that offences could be entered on participants’ criminal records which would “leave a mark on the person’s future”