A week after banning Facebook in Russia, Russian communications agency Roskomnadzor announced it will also ban Instagram. While the Facebook ban cited “discrimination against Russian media,” the government this time claims it’s happening because of a decision by parent company Meta to direct moderators to allow posts calling for violence against Russian soldiers if they come from are from certain countries, including Ukraine.
The head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, said in a tweet that “This decision will cut off 80 million in Russia, and from the rest of the world, as ~80% of people in Russia follow an Instagram account outside their country. This is wrong.”
Instagram will be blocked in Russia on Mondays. This decision will cut off 80 million in Russia from each other and from the rest of the world, as ~80% of people in Russia follow an Instagram account outside their country. This is wrong.— Adam Mosseri (@mosseri) March 11, 2022
Google translated from Russian, the agency’s statement says the following:
As you know, Meta Platforms Inc. made an unprecedented decision on March 11 by allowing the posting of information calling for violence against Russian citizens on its social networks Facebook and Instagram.
On the social network Instagram, messages are circulating encouraging and provoking violent actions against Russians, in connection with which the Russian prosecutor’s office demanded that Roskomnadzor limit access to this social network.
Since it will take time for active Instagram users to transfer their photo and video content to other social networks and to notify their contacts and subscribers, Roskomnadzor has decided to close the procedure for imposing restrictions on access to Instagram to complete on March 14 at 12:00 AM. with an additional transition period of 48 hours.
The government’s decision does not mention that Russian oligarchs have used Instagram to speak out against the invasion. In some cases, this extends to the children of oligarchs who have become influencers with a large following, such as Sofia Abramovich, daughter of billionaire Roman Abramovich, who reportedly shared a post saying, “Propaganda’s biggest and most successful lie from the Kremlin, most Russians are with Putin.” Banker Oleg Tinkov, who was at one point the 15th richest person in Russia, is one of the most notable dissenters with a post that ended with “We are against this war!”
As for the “unprecedented” step Meta has taken in content moderation, a report from vice Last summer, it took a similar decision to temporarily allow content, including calls for “death to Khamenei” and chants that emerged during a period of protests in the country’s southwestern region of Khuzestan.
The announcement of the ban also comes just days after Meta announced plans for Instagram to label state media and that in Russia and Ukraine it “hides information about people’s followers, who they follow, and people who follow each other for private purposes.” accounts in these two countries.”
The blockade will not take effect until March 14, and the Russian state media agency RIA Novosti reports it will not apply to the also owned Meta platform WhatsApp. Earlier in the day, Russian government officials threatened a ban and demanded that Meta confirm or refute the information first reported by Reuters†
Last night, Meta spokesperson Andy Stone said: “As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we have temporarily taken into account forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules, such as violent utterances such as ‘death to the Russian invaders’. We will still not allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians.”
Meta’s President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg said in a statement Friday: that the company’s policy was “focused on protecting people’s right to speech as an act of self-defense in response to a military invasion of their country.” Clegg said that if Meta/Instagram applied its current policy without changes, “we would now be removing content from ordinary Ukrainians expressing their defiance and anger” at the Russian invasion, “which would rightly be considered unacceptable.”
Clegg said the temporary policy would only apply within Ukraine itself. “We are not arguing with the Russian people,” he said, adding, “we do not tolerate Russophobia or any form of discrimination, intimidation or violence against Russians on our platform.”
Update March 11, 2:30 PM ET: Added statement from Meta president of global affairs Nick Clegg
Update March 11, 7:00 PM ET: Added statement from Instagram head Adam Mosseri.