Russia Bans Facebook And Instagram After Labeling Meta An “Extremist Organization”

Russia has banned the use of Facebook and Instagram after labeling Meta, the parent company of these apps, as an “extremist organization,” as reported by the state-run RIA Novosti news agency.

The decision was made in response to the Russian prosecutor general’s office appeal, requesting Meta to be designated as an “extremist organization” due to its failure to prevent users in certain countries from calling for violence against President Vladimir Putin and Russian soldiers involved in the invasion of Ukraine. Notably, WhatsApp, also owned by Meta, is not included in the ban. Meta has chosen not to comment on the matter.

It is important to note that individuals will not face criminal charges for using Facebook or Instagram. According to a spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office, “the use of Meta’s products by individuals and legal entities should not be considered as participation in extremist activities,” as reported by state media outlet TASS. Simply using Meta’s services will not make individuals liable.

However, the prosecutors have also indicated that paying for advertising on Instagram and Facebook could be seen as financing an extremist organization. The Net Freedoms Project, a Russian human rights organization, echoed this sentiment on its Telegram channel, suggesting that anyone with ties to Facebook and Instagram, including businesses, websites, and those displaying the apps’ logos on their business cards, could potentially face felony charges. The organization described this as constituting a public display of extremist symbols.

As a result of this ruling, Roskomnadzor, the Russian government’s media watchdog, now possesses the authority to block Meta’s social networks and close down its relevant offices in Russia.

This latest move follows Russia’s recent decision to block access to Facebook, with Instagram being added to the list one week later. The reason behind these actions was Meta’s announcement that it would permit Facebook and Instagram users in Ukraine to engage in “forms of political expression” that would typically violate the company’s rules against violent speech, such as promoting harm to Russian individuals involved in the invasion.

RIA Novosti has reported that Russian prosecutors view the “extremist information” being disseminated on Facebook and Instagram as a threat to both individuals and society at large. They argue that the company violated its own guidelines by allowing the publication of calls for the killing of Russian military personnel.

It is worth noting that in February, Meta blocked access to Russian state media outlets RT and Sputnik in the European Union. Other American tech giants, including Google and Apple, have likewise responded to the invasion by restricting access to Russian state media.

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Written by Western Reader

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