Russia’s communications agency, Roskomnadzor, has declared that it will also block Instagram, just a week after banning Facebook. While the government previously blamed the ban on Facebook on “discrimination against Russian media,” this time it claims it’s due to a decision by parent company Meta instructing moderators to allow posts calling for violence against Russian soldiers if they come from specific countries, including Ukraine.
“This decision will shut 80 million in Russia off from one another, and from the rest of the globe,” Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri stated in a tweet. “80 percent of people in Russia follow an Instagram account outside their country.” This is incorrect.”
The following is a Google translation of the agency’s statement:
As you may be aware, Meta Platforms Inc. made an unusual decision on March 11 by permitting content containing incitement for violence against Russian nationals to be posted on its social media platforms Facebook and Instagram.
Messages encouraging and inspiring violent crimes against Russians are circulating on the Instagram social network, prompting the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office to propose that Roskomnadzor restrict access to the platform.
Because it will take time for active Instagram users to transfer their photo and video materials to other social networks and notify their contacts and subscribers, Roskomnadzor decided to finish the procedure for imposing restrictions on Instagram access at 00:00 on March 14, giving users an extra 48 hours of grace.
The government’s decision ignores the fact that Russian oligarchs have used Instagram to express their opposition to the invasion. This includes the children of oligarchs who have grown into social media influencers with large followings, such as Sofia Abramovich, daughter of billionaire Roman Abramovich, who reportedly shared a message saying, “the biggest and most successful lie of Kremlin propaganda is that most Russians stand with Putin.” One of the most prominent dissidents is banker Oleg Tinkov, who was once Russia’s 15th wealthiest person, with a message that concluded, “We are against this war!”
In terms of Meta’s “unique” content filtering decision, Vice reported last summer that the country’s southwest region of Khuzestan made a similar choice to temporarily allow content including “death to Khamenei” demands and shouting during a period of protests.
The announcement of the ban comes just days after Meta announced plans for Instagram to label state media outlets and that it is “hiding information about people’s followers, who they’re following, and people who are following each other for private accounts based in these two countries” in Russia and Ukraine.
The ban will not take effect until March 14th, according to Russian state-run news outlet RIA Novosti, and it will not apply to WhatsApp, which is also owned by Meta. Russian government officials threatened a ban earlier in the day, asking that Meta confirm or dispute the information initially published by Reuters.
“As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we have temporarily made exemptions for forms of political expression that would typically breach our standards like aggressive rhetoric such as ‘death to the Russian invaders,'” Meta spokesperson Andy Stone stated last night. We will not tolerate credible threats of violence against Russian civilians.”
The company’s rules, according to Meta’s president of global relations Nick Clegg, are “centred on defending people’s right to speech as an expression of self-defense in response to a military invasion of their nation.” “We would now be eliminating content from ordinary Ukrainians expressing their opposition and indignation” to the Russian invasion, Clegg said, if Meta/Instagram followed its current practises without change. “This would rightly be considered as unacceptable.”
The temporary policy, according to Clegg, will only apply within Ukraine. “We have no beef with the Russian people,” he stated, adding that “on our platform, we will not accept Russophobia or any other type of discrimination, harassment, or violence directed against Russians.”