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Russia says ‘limiting’ sites of BBC, Deutsche Welle, Meduza

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Russia is restricting access to the BBC and other independent media websites, according to the country's media watchdog


Russia is restricting access to the BBC and other independent media websites, according to the country’s media watchdog – Copyright GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP JUSTIN SULLIVAN

Russia’s media watchdog said Friday it had restricted access to the BBC and other independent media websites, tightening controls over the internet more than a week after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Access to websites of the BBC, the independent news website Meduza, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, and the Russian-language website of the US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Svoboda, were “limited” by Roskomnadzor following a request from prosecutors.

The agency said that in each case, the prosecutors’ request was filed on February 24, the day Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his attack on Ukraine.

The invasion has claimed hundreds of lives and spurred allegation of war crimes.

The BBC responded by saying that access to “accurate, independent information is a fundamental human right which should not be denied to the people of Russia, millions of whom rely on BBC News every week.

“We will continue our efforts to make BBC News available in Russia, and across the rest of the world,” added a spokesperson for the broadcaster.

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The BBC announced this week that the audience for its Russian language news website more than tripled its weekly average, reaching 10.7 million in the last seven days.

In English, visitors to bbc.com in Russia soared by 252 percent to 423,000 in the same period, the broadcaster said.

Director-general Tim Davie promised to “continue giving the Russian people access to the truth, however we can”, as more shortwave frequencies to receive BBC radio in Ukraine were added.

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“In a conflict where disinformation and propaganda is rife, there is a clear need for factual and independent news people can trust,” he added.

The past year has seen an unprecedented crackdown on independent and critical voices in Russia that only intensified after the start of the invasion.

Ekho Mosvky — a liberal-leaning radio station majority-owned by Russia’s energy giant Gazprom — said Thursday it would shut down after being taken off air over its coverage of the Ukraine war.

Authorities had on Monday blocked the Ekho website and took the station off air as punishment for spreading “deliberately false information” about the conflict.

Editor-in-chief Alexei Venediktov said in a post on Ekho Moskvy’s Telegram channel Thursday that it would continue to publish content on YouTube and social media “despite the decision of the board of directors” who voted to liquidate the radio station and website.

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Ekho Moskvy was founded in 1990 during the final days of the Soviet Union.

Russian media have been instructed to publish only information provided by official sources, which describe the invasion as a military operation.

Russia’s state-controlled television channels meanwhile have doubled down on Kremlin narratives about nationalism in Ukraine, while accusing Kyiv of using civilians as human shields in the conflict.

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Meta’s Adding More Ad Targeting Information to its Ad Library Listings

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Meta's Adding More Ad Targeting Information to its Ad Library Listings

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytics scandal, Meta has implemented a range of data protection measures to ensure that it limits access to users’ personal data and insight, while at the same time, it’s also been working to provide more transparency into how its systems are being used by different groups to target their messaging.

These conflicting approaches require a delicate balance, one which Meta has largely been able to maintain via its Ad Library, which enables anyone to see any ad being run by any Facebook Page in the recent past.

Now, Meta’s looking to add to that insight, with new information being added to the Ad Library on how Pages are using social issue, electoral or political ads in their process.

Meta ad targeting

As you can see here, the updated Ad Library overview will include more specific information on how each advertiser is using these more sensitive targeting options, which could help researchers detect misuse or report concerns.

As explained by Meta:

“At the end of this month, detailed targeting information for social issue, electoral or political ads will be made available to vetted academic researchers through the Facebook Open Research and Transparency (FORT) environment […] Coming in July, our publicly available Ad Library will also include a summary of targeting information for social issue, electoral or political ads run after launch. This update will include data on the total number of social issue, electoral and political ads a Page ran using each type of targeting (such as location, demographics and interests) and the percentage of social issue, electoral and political ad spend used to target those options.”

That’s a significant update for Meta’s ad transparency efforts, which will help researchers better understand key trends in ad usage, and how they relate to messaging resonance and response.

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Meta has come under scrutiny over such in the past, with independent investigations finding that housing ads, for example, were illegally using race-based exclusions in their ad targeting. That led to Meta changing its rules on how its exclusions can be used, and this new expansion could eventually lead to similar, by making discriminatory ad targeting easier to identify, with direct examples from Meta’s system.

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For regular advertisers, it could also give you some additional insight into your competitors’ tactics. You might find more detailed information on how other brands are honing in on specific audiences, which may not be discriminatory, but may highlight new angles for your own marketing efforts.

It’s a good transparency update, which should glean significant benefits for researchers trying to better understand how Meta’s intricate ad targeting system is being used in various ways.

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