Russia’s official internet censorship agency, Roskomnadzor, announced on Friday that it was blocking Facebook.

The nation-wide ban comes as activists use the social media platform to plan anti-war protests and express their discontent with Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

NBC News reports:

“On March 4, 2022, it was decided to block access to the Facebook network (owned by Meta Platforms, Inc.) in the Russian Federation,” the regulator said.

It cited “26 cases of discrimination against Russian media and information resources,” actions it said are prohibited by Russian laws on the dissemination of information.

Nice Clegg, Head of Global Affairs for Facebook, released the following statement:

Soon, millions of ordinary Russians will find themselves cut off from reliable information, deprived of their everyday ways of connecting with family and silenced from speaking out. We will continue to do everything we can to restore our services so they remain available to people to safely and securely express themselves and organize for action.

The Verge reports:

Earlier on Friday, the Russian legislature advanced a new law against spreading “fake news” about the country’s armed forces, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Shortly after the bill was advanced, the BBC announced it would suspend journalistic operations within the country.

BBC Director General Tim Davie said in a statement posted to Twitter that the new law “appears to criminalise the process of independent journalism.”

“It leaves us no other option than to temporarily suspend the work of all BBC News journalists and their support staff in the Russian Federation while we assess the full implications of this unwelcome development,” Davie said.

The New York Times adds:

The law will take effect as soon as Saturday, and could make a criminal offense of simply calling the war a “war” — the Kremlin says it is a “special military operation” — on social media or in a news article or broadcast. Announcements that the law was coming had already pushed Russian independent media outlets to shut down in recent days, and more followed on Friday.