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Russia bans walkie-talkie app Zello

Officials in Russia said they contacted Zello to "stop sending messages to users that contain false information" about the invasion of Ukraine.
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Written by Jonathan Greig, Staff Writer on

Walkie-talkie communication app Zello has become the latest app banned by Russian officials. 

On Sunday, Russia's Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications, also known as Roskomnadzor, announced that it is banning Zello for spreading "false information" about the invasion of Ukraine. 

"On March 4, Roskomnadzor, based on the decision, sent the administration of the American Internet resource Zello a request to stop sending messages to users that contain false information about the course of a special operation of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine," Roskomnadzor said in a translated statement. 

"The administration of the Zello Internet resource did not comply with the requirement of Roskomnadzor within the period established by law. Due to the failure of the administration of Zello to comply with the requirements of Roskomnadzor, access to this application on the territory of the Russian Federation will be limited within 24 hours."

On Friday, Roskomnadzor announced that it will block access to Facebook, alleging the US social media giant has discriminated against Russian media and information resources. Early last week, Facebook said it would be "demoting" content from Russian state-backed media outlets on Facebook and Instagram as part of a wide range of efforts taken in light of the recent invasion of Ukraine. 

Nick Clegg, Facebook's president of global affairs and the former UK deputy prime minister, said the Russian government was already throttling Facebook and Instagram to make it more difficult for Russian citizens to see certain content.

Since Russia began the invasion in February, several tech companies like Google, Microsoft and Apple have taken punitive actions against Russia, banning services or ending business in the country. 

Emsisoft threat analyst Brett Callow noted that Russia has already blocked the BBC and multiple other international media outlets, 

"Blocking Zello is not a surprise," Callow said. "The Russian government will likely continue to try to limit access to any sources of non-favorable information about the invasion, so more blocks are highly probable."

Zello did not respond to requests for comment about the situation. The app has become massively popular in Ukraine since the invasion began. 

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