Mar 19th, 2022, 08:05 AM

Russia Implements Widespread Media Restrictions

By Molly Wilhelm
Image credit: Unsplash/Joshua Hoehne
Russia imposes strict media restrictions and shutdowns across the country during invasion of Ukraine.

Russia imposed shutdowns across several social media platforms countrywide in an effort to limit the free spread of information amidst the war in Ukraine, according to NPR

Access to Facebook was blocked after Russian state-owned media accounts were removed by the platform. Russian authorities made claims that Instagram had been used to encourage violence against Russian soldiers and blocked access to the photo-sharing app throughout the country as well, according to ABC News. Restrictions have been imposed on more well known social media platforms such as Twitter, according to The Guardian

Other media companies have restricted or suspended their services in Russia, including TikTok, Netflix, Microsoft, Apple , Samsung, Oracle, and Cisco creating what The New York Times refers to as a 'digital barricade' between Russia and the rest of the world. A running list of websites and platforms that have been blocked in Russia can be found on Top10VPN's website.

Image credit: Unsplash/Adem AY 

This digital isolation follows Russia's enactment of a strict new law, which enables Russian authorities to prevent public discussion and backlash. This law, which went into effect on March 4, prevents citizens from spreading what Russian authorities deem to be 'fake' information about the invasion in Ukraine and the use of the term 'war,' according to The Independent

An employee of one of Russia's state-run television station was taken into police custody on March 14 after holding a sign that read 'No War' in protest on live air, according to Politico. Citizens or journalists found to be in breach of this law face up to 15 years in jail. 

Many Russian citizens are looking for ways to bypass the shutdowns. Hundreds of thousands of Russians are using virtual private networks, also known as VPNs, in order to retain access to restricted content and apps, according to The Guardian. As of March 14, VPN demand in Russia has increased 2,692% since the invasion of Ukraine, according to Top10VPN

Russian influencers devastated by Instagram ban


Influencers and other Russian media personalities have publicly expressed their unhappiness. Many Russian internet celebrities, whose livelihoods depend on their social media content, have urged their followers to reconnect with them on Telegram, V Kontakte, and other Russian-founded media platforms, according to The Guardian.

These digital blocks within Russia have accelerated an ongoing issue of censorship existing in the country. Struggles with internet throttling and purposeful government driven social media interference have been occurring in the country since at least 2019, according to TIME News Magazine.