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Meta blocks access to Russian state-based media outlets RT and Sputnik across EU

Twitter and Microsoft have also announced fresh measures to reduce misinformation.
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Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Senior Journalist on
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Image: Sean Gladwell/Getty Images

Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has now restricted access to Russian state-based media outlets Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik across the European Union.

"We have received requests from a number of governments and the EU to take further steps in relation to Russian state-controlled media," Meta VP global affairs Nick Clegg wrote in a tweet.

"Given the exceptional nature of the current situation, we will be restricting access to RT and Sputnik across the EU at this time.

"We will continue to work closely with governments on this issue."

The ban is in addition to restrictions the social media giant already had placed on Russian state-media accounts in Ukraine in response to Russia's invasion into the country, which began five days ago.

It comes off the back of EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen saying the bloc would place a ban on RT and Sputnik, as well as their subsidiaries.

"We will ban the Kremlin's media machine in the EU. The state-owned Russia Today and Sputnik, and their subsidiaries, will no longer be able to spread their lies to justify Putin's war," she said.

"We are developing tools to ban their toxic and harmful disinformation in Europe."

Meanwhile, Twitter has also taken additional steps to fight against Russian misinformation by adding labels on tweets that share links from Russian state-based media websites. Twitter will also be reducing the content's visibility.

The labels will be added to state-affiliated media outlets in the "coming weeks", Twitter head of site integrity Yoel Roth wrote in a tweet.

"We've learned that labelling Tweets is another way we can add helpful context to conversations around some of the most critical issues, such as COVID-19 and elections happening around the world," he said.

"This work builds on the numerous steps we've taken over the past week -- from pausing ads in Ukraine and Russia, to launching timeline prompts with context about the crisis. We remain vigilant and will keep you updated along the way."

Microsoft has also announced measures to reduce misinformation.

"We are moving swiftly to take new steps to reduce the exposure of Russian state propaganda, as well to ensure our own platforms do not inadvertently fund these operations," the company announced in a post.

"In accordance with the EU's recent decision, the Microsoft Start platform (including MSN.com) will not display any state-sponsored RT and Sputnik content.

"We are removing RT news apps from our Windows app store and further de-ranking these sites' search results on Bing so that it will only return RT and Sputnik links when a user clearly intends to navigate to those pages. Finally, we are banning all advertisements from RT and Sputnik across our ad network and will not place any ads from our ad network on these sites."

Updated at 10:49am AEST, 1 March 2022: added further information about Microsoft Start platform activation.

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