Updated · May 20, 2022
Russia Cements Ban on “Extremist” Facebook and Instagram
Updated · Mar 23, 2022
The court excluded WhatsApp from the ban, saying it is not technically an information source.
A court in Moscow has banned Facebook and Instagram in Russia, dubbing parent company Meta an “extremist” organization. It follows a series of retaliatory crackdowns on western-owned digital platforms in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The country’s communications regulator Roskomnadzor had restricted access to both services last week. It cited Meta’s decision to allow calls for violence against Russian soldiers on its platforms. The company had streamlined the relaxed policy to people posting from inside Ukraine.
That call prompted prosecutors to appeal to the court to designate Meta as “extremist”.
On Monday, Roskomnadzor said that Meta will no longer appear on the list of foreign companies operating on the internet in the country. It also said it will strike out Facebook and Instagram from its social network register.
The ban will not extend to WhatsApp, Meta’s instant messaging platform.
Continued Use Not Illegal
The Russian government will not pursue legal actions against individuals and organizations who continue to use the banned platforms.
“The use of Meta’s products by individuals and legal entities should not be considered as participation in extremist activities,” FSB representative Igor Kovalevsky told the court. “Individuals will not be held liable for using Meta’s services.”
However, if users pay for ads on both platforms, this will be considered “financing extremism”. As a result, they may attract penalties.
Downloads of VPN services in Russia have skyrocketed in recent times as citizens look to circumvent an even more restricted internet. Earlier this month, the parliament passed a law criminalizing the spread of “fake news” about its military activities in Ukraine.
Daniel is an Economics grad who fell in love with tech. His love for books and reading pushed him into picking up the pen - and keyboard. Also a data analyst, he's taking that leap into data science and machine learning. When not writing or studying, chances are that you'll catch him watching football or face-deep in an epic fantasy novel.
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