It was only a matter of time really: after blocking access to Facebook within its borders, Russia has now announced that another Meta-owned platform, Instagram, is also going to be banned in the country from the start of next week.
The decision was made by Russian communications agency Roskomnadzor (via Protocol) after Meta said it would permit certain calls for violence against invading Russian soldiers on Instagram and Facebook – something the Kremlin was not happy about.
Meta as a whole has now been labeled as an “extremist” organization by Russian authorities, and legal proceedings have been started against it. The block will begin on Monday, March 14.
For its part, Meta has emphasized that its relaxing of the rules around calls to violence are specific to the context of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. They only apply in Ukraine itself, and only to Russian military forces, not the Russian people.
“Our policies are focused on protecting people's rights to speech as an expression of self-defense in reaction to a military invasion of their country,” said Facebook's Nick Clegg in a statement. It's for “ordinary Ukranians expressing their resistance and fury” at the invasion, the statement continued.
As the war has played out over social media, Russia has been busy trying to stem the tide of anti-Russian sentiment while also spreading misinformation of its own. Twitter seems to be unofficially blocked or at least heavily restricted, while TikTok is only displaying content from Russia inside Russia.
On the other side, Russian state-owned media outlets have been banned from both the Google and Apple app stores. In recent days, pro-Russia accounts on social media have been suggesting scenes of suffering and devastation in Ukraine are actually staged.
With the wider world continuing to show anger and disbelief at the actions of Russia, the country finds itself increasingly isolated. Numerous tech companies, including Amazon and Microsoft, are no longer doing business in Russia as the war continues.