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Russia and Ukraine war leads to Facebook ban

 Russia and Ukraine war leads to Facebook ban

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With the escalation of the war that broke out between Russia and Ukraine, social media has become an essential thing in disseminating news and information, spreading awareness of citizens about the war, as well as linking Russian and Ukrainian citizens, side by side, to follow world events everywhere, as well as informing citizens of the latest news.

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The use of social media, especially Facebook, has become more difficult for Russian citizens, as the Russian government, prior to the outbreak of the war and the escalation of events, restricted access to Facebook, on the pretext that Facebook closed Russian media accounts.

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As explained by the Russian Communications and Technology Commission:

On February 24, Facebook restricted the official accounts of four Russian media - the Zvezda TV channel, the RIA Novosti news agency, and the Internet sites and Federal law prohibits such actions in relation to Internet resources and Russian media. [We have sent] requests to the Meta Platforms administration to remove Facebook's restrictions on Russian media, and to explain why they are being submitted. The owners of the social network ignored the requirements."

In view of this, the Supervisory Service for Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Communications of Russia has chosen to take measures to “partially restrict access” to Facebook for Russian users.

In response, Meta acknowledged that it was describing misinformation from state media as such, which is likely the main driver leading to the ban.

As Nick Clegg of Meta notes, the situation is rapidly evolving, and we are seeing once again how social media is now playing an important role in this area, disseminating relevant information - and how leaders in some areas are looking to limit themselves and to control the narrative, by applying pressure On the big social platforms.

Facebook has nearly 70 million users in Russia, and 24 million in Ukraine, which is about half of the total population of each country, so its reach is huge, as is its influence. And if anyone knows Facebook's potential to influence public opinion, it will be Russia that has repeatedly sought to interfere in foreign democracies by spreading disinformation via the app.

As such, it is not surprising to see Russia move to restrict access to Facebook in an effort to control the public narrative, which it has also sought to do during previous incidents, by threatening action and enforcing laws to force social platforms to remove content at their request.

But it once again emphasizes the importance of social media as a connecting tool, which is especially important in times of crisis. Disinformation is everywhere right now, along with other motivated groups spreading false stories and reports in an effort to drive engagement.

Case in point, this video, which went viral on TikTok, does not depict Russian soldiers airdropping in Ukraine as the description suggests.

When users are incentivized to push engagement, in order to get the most out of their content, some will do whatever it takes, and this can lead to a bewildering and misleading situation online that increases fear and division and can lead to civil unrest as groups align With false reasons apparently validated by these publications.

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It is important for users to remain vigilant about such, and to check all the reports they see. Confidence in the mainstream media has waned recently, for largely unfair reasons, but at the moment, in the midst of a crisis, it is important to validate and confirm any reports via key sources and journalists, to ensure there is at least some support for any claims.

We are now seeing, once again, the role social media campaigns can play in shaping political narratives, and how this can lead to public support, or distrust, which then influences the approach. Ukrainian citizens document events as they unfold, while Russia seeks to constrain them.

It is important to note what is being shared and the motives behind it, and to avoid recirculating information that may be incorrect.

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