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Russian Government Agency Threatens To Ban Facebook Over Illegal Ads

Russian protesters hold a banner with the Facebook logo in May 2012.
The Russian federal communications and media watchdog, Roskomnadzor, has threatened to ban Facebook over claims the social network advertised smoking blends designed to cause effects similar to those of illegal drugs.

Roskomnadzor spokesman Vladimir Pykov on September 19 said the social network has been provisionally put on a list of banned Internet sites and asked it to remove the controversial content within three days.

Pykov said several users had complained that Facebook ads were advertising illegal products, leading to online stores selling the products.

Facebook blamed the appearance of the advertisements on a technical glitch.

Later on September 19, Facebook said the controversial ads had been removed.

Under a 2012 law, websites that publish materials propagating the use of narcotics, child pornography, or suicide are banned in Russia.

The offending website can be blocked if it does not eliminate the problem within three days.

Based on reporting by Vedomosti, ITAR-TASS, and Interfax