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Russia considers WhatsApp ban, citing risk of “prohibited information”

Russia warns blocking WhatsApp after it unveiled a new channel feature that resembles Telegram’s. The Roskomnadzor, Russia’s state censor’s proposal showcasing the Kremlin’s push to tighten its grip on media, according to ISW’s daily report.
Photo: open sources
Russia considers WhatsApp ban, citing risk of “prohibited information”

Russian State Duma and Federation Council members proposed blocking WhatsApp “as part of the Kremlin’s broader initiative to establish central control over the Russian information space,” according to the US-based think tank, Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

On 13 September, Facebook’s parent company Meta announced that WhatsApp launched a channel feature to over 150 countries, likely including Russia, that will function similarly to Telegram channels.

In March 2022, Russia added Meta to a list of terrorist and extremist organizations and banned its Facebook and Instagram services in Russia.

Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security Head Viktor Bondarev, State Duma Committee on Information Policy Head Alexander Khinshtein, and State Duma Deputy Anton Gorelkin said that Russia should consider blocking WhatsApp in Russia if WhatsApp launches Russian language channels.

Russian state media censor Roskomnadzor reported that Russia could block WhatsApp if it disseminates prohibited information.

“Russian authorities are likely attempting to funnel the Russian information space onto a limited number of closely monitored or controlled social media platforms,” ISW concluded in its report.

Earlier, Roskomnadzor sent a warning to Wikipedia, threatening to block it in Russia due to the article about the invasion of Ukraine. According to Meduza, Russia launched its own analog of Wikipedia, Runiversalis, in August 2022, where there are no articles about the war in Ukraine.

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