Facebook and Instagram are blocking RT and Sputnik for users in the UK following a request by the British government.
It follows a letter by Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries in which she urged Meta, TikTok, and Twitter to restrict access to the Russian state-owned organisations which she accused of spreading “damaging propaganda into Britain”.
“I want to urge you to do everything you can to apply the approach you are taking across the EU to block access both to RT and to Sputnik’s online output on your UK services,” said Ms Dorries.
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This is the letter that Nadine Dorries, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, sent yesterday to Meta, Twitter, and TikTok urging them to restrict access to RT and Sputnik in the UK. pic.twitter.com/MywQhmUGUe
— Sky News Tech (@SkyNewsTech) March 4, 2022
A spokesperson for Meta told Sky News: “Earlier this week, we announced that we’d be restricting access to RT and Sputnik across the EU.
“Consistent with that action, and following a request from the UK government, we will also be restricting access to RT and Sputnik in the UK at this time,” they added.
In response to Meta’s move, Ms Dorries tweeted: “I thank Meta in responding to my call to remove RT and Sputnik from their platforms in the UK. It is important that we do all we can to tackle propaganda pushed by Putin’s Russia.”
Announcing the EU’s sanctions against “the Kremlin’s media machine” on Sunday, Ursula von der Leyen said: “The state-owned Russia Today and Sputnik, and their subsidiaries, will no longer be able to spread their lies to justify Putin’s war.”
Earlier this week YouTube made the decision to block access to RT and Sputnik across Europe and in the UK at the same time.
Twitter and TikTok have not yet responded to Ms Dorries’ request.
Sky News understands that there is concern at these companies that the EU banning both RT and Sputnik was based on legislative action taken by President Von der Leyen, and that no similar legal moves have been made in the UK.
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One source at one of these platforms also expressed concern that Ms Dorries’ letter explains how she had asked Ofcom to investigate RT and noted that the investigation was ongoing, highlighting how important it was that the right legal approach is taken.
The particular concern is that RT and Sputnik could launch a legal claim against the platforms for banning them in a manner that isn’t covered by their terms and conditions, but just followed a letter from a government minister.