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Why Russia decided to restrict Instagram

Roskomnadzor made a very important decision. The country’s technology regulatory agency restricted access to Instagram after its parent company Meta Platforms began allowing users in some countries to call for violence against Russia’s longtime leader Vladimir Putin and military.

Last week, authorities in Russia opened a criminal case against Meta and sought to have it declared an extremist organization because of the temporary change in its hate speech policy. 

Roskomnadzor said the limitations on access to Instagram will be limited based on the order of the Prosecutor General’s Office.

The Russian Federation already blocked access in the country to Facebook on March 4. It took measures against Facebook after the platform put limits on government-affiliated media outlets.

As of November, Instagram and Facebook each had more than 60 million users in the country. 

Meta’s temporary hate speech policy allows Instagram and Facebook users in Russia, Ukraine, and Poland to call for the death of the allies Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. 

The tech giant said it would be wrong to prevent Ukrainians from “expressing their resistance and fury at the invading military forces”. 

Besides, the policy allows for violence against Russian soldiers in those three countries and several others in Eastern Europe. Users from Baltic states and western Asia can also call for violence against Russian soldiers. 

In spite of Roskomnadzor’s decision, many people still would like to use Instagram. People in Russia are turning to virtual private networks to bypass Russia’s tightening internet controls following the invasion of Ukraine. 

While the country has moved to block services, a growing list of companies decided to suspend operations in Russia. Netflix and others suspended sales or services in the country. For instance, Apple stopped selling its physical products in Russia. 




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