Today, the Tverskoy Court of Moscow recognized the activities of the social networks Instagram and Facebook, owned by Meta Platforms, as “extremist” and banned them in Russia. It doesn’t include WhatsApp.
As a TASS correspondent reports, Judge Olga Solopova ordered to “satisfy the claims of the Prosecutor General’s Office to ban the activities of the Meta company.”
Further reading: Russia Limits Access To Facebook: Violates Human Rights And Freedoms
As the judge noted, the decision to ban takes effect immediately. Earlier, the FSB (Federal Security Service) of Russia insisted on this.
Russia Won’t Punish Its Citizens For Using Facebook
As the prosecutor explained earlier, the requirements do not apply to the WhatsApp messenger owned by Meta. In addition, Russia won’t make people liable for participating in extremism if using Facebook and Instagram. “The use of Meta’s products by individuals and legal entities should not be considered as participation in extremist activities,” a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office explained. But buying ads on these two services could be considered as financing extremism.
At the same time, Meta can’t open branches and do business in Russia. The Prosecutor General’s Office and the FSB believe that Meta’s activities prejudice Russia and its armed forces.
“We believe that the company’s operations are subject to a ban in connection with the engagement by it in extremist activities,” an official for Russia’s communications regulator Roskomnadzor said during the hearing, according to a report by Interfax.
In fact, there is a serious reason behind this appeal. Residents of a number of countries have been posting information containing calls for violence against Russian citizens. The Investigative Committee of Russia opened a criminal case on incitement to violence and murder against Russians in connection with the actions of the company’s employees. Earlier, Roskomnadzor had already restricted the work of Instagram and Facebook in Russia. They decided not to limit the work of the WhatsApp messenger.
Not that long ago, Facebook and Instagram made some changes in their policy. Those moderations allow users in Ukraine and other eastern European countries to call for violence against Russian soldiers. For instance, Meta told people responsible for approving posts to allow all those that call for the death of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. However, later, they began banning “calls for violence against Russian citizens or any heads of state”, according to Reuters.