Twitter and Facebook down as Russia restricts social media access

Twitter users in Russia have reported social network outages, according to a Russian website which monitors the blocking of websites and internet outages.

Downdetector also reported on Saturday that Facebook is down for some Russian users, mainly in the nation's biggest cities. The reports come after Russian authorities announced the “partial restriction” of Facebook and the nation's communications agency, Roskomnadzor, accused the platform of violating "the rights and freedoms of Russian citizens".

Downdetector said users started having problems accessing Twitter at around 11am local time in Moscow.

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The site has reported users in major Russian cities, including Moscow and St Petersburg, are most affected. Most people have reported issues with accessing Twitter via websites and apps. Some users have also reported problems trying to access Twitter using a VPN, which are used to make it look like a user is accessing the site from an alternative location.

The Russian communications agency Roskomnadzor and the Prosecutor General's Office said on February 25 that they have, "in agreement with the Foreign Ministry, decided to recognise the social network Facebook as involved in the violation of fundamental human rights and freedoms, as well as the rights and freedoms of Russian citizens".

This is in response to a decision by Facebook to limit access to four Kremlin-backed media outlets. On Thursday, Moscow ordered Facebook to stop independent fact-checking on the platform and stop labelling content from the Russian outlets affected as being associated with the Kremlin.

The social network outages in Russia are happening at a time when videos are emerging online, purportedly of Russian soldiers, who have been captured after Russia invaded Ukraine. In the videos, one soldier can be heard saying: "Mum and Dad, I didn't want to come here. They made me". In another, a man is seen shouting, "you are idiots, get out of here!" at what appear to be two armed Russian soldiers in Ukraine.