A week after banning Facebook, Russia’s communications regulator Roskomnadzor declared it will also prohibit Instagram. This time, instead of “discrimination against Russian media,” the government blames a Meta decision directing moderators to allow messages calling for violence against Russian military from particular nations, including Ukraine.
“This decision will cut 80 million Russians off from each other, and from the rest of the world,” stated Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri in a post. “Wrong.”
Google translated from Russian, the agency’s statement says the following:
The decision to allow the publication of information containing demands for violence against Russian nationals on Meta Platforms’ Facebook and Instagram social networks was taken on March 11.
The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office demanded that Roskomnadzor block access to Instagram due to messages promoting and inspiring violent acts against Russians.
Because active Instagram users would need time to transfer their photos and videos to other social networks and notify their contacts and subscribers, Roskomnadzor decided to end the process at 00:00 on March 14, giving users an extra 48 hours to prepare.
The government’s decision makes no mention of the fact that Russian oligarchs have taken to social media to express their opposition to the invasion. As a result, children of oligarchs who have gained significant social media followings, such as Sofia Abramovich, the daughter of billionaire Roman Abramovich, have been accused of spreading propaganda that “the biggest and most successful lie of Kremlin’s propaganda is that the majority of Russians stand with Putin.” Oleg Tinkov, a banker who was once the 15th wealthiest person in Russia, is one of the most prominent opponents, having written a blog post that concluded, “We are against this war!”
If you’re wondering about the “unprecedented” step taken by Meta in terms of content moderation last summer, a report from Vice last summer noted that a similar decision was made to temporarily allow content such as “death to Khamenei” calls and slogans that went up during a period of protests in Iran’s southwest region of Khuzestan.