Just a week after Russia announced that it had banned Facebook, Meta’s other popular platform Instagram will be blocked in the country on March 14.
The announcement was made via the country’s communications agency Roskomnadzo which says that the decision comes in response to Instagram’s parent company Meta announcing that it would allow posts that called for violence against Russian soldiers.
“As you know, on March 11, Meta Platforms Inc. made an unprecedented decision by allowing the posting of information containing calls for violence against Russian citizens on its social networks Facebook and Instagram,” Roskomnadzo says.
“Messages are circulating on the Instagram social network encouraging and provoking violent acts against Russians, in connection with which the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office demanded that Roskomnadzor restrict access to this social network.”
Earlier today, Reuters reported that Facebook would allow posts on its platform that urged violence against Russian invaders.
“As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine we have temporarily made allowances for forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules like violent speech such as ‘death to the Russian invaders.’ We still won’t allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians,” a Meta spokesperson said.
In response, Russian prosecutors asked a court to label both Facebook and Instagram as “extremist,” a step beyond simply banning the platforms and would also criminalize operations of those entities in Russia.
The ban will not take effect immediately but will commence in two days.
“Since it will take time for active Instagram users to transfer their photo and video materials to other social networks and notify their contacts and subscribers, Roskomnadzor decided to complete the procedure for imposing restrictions on access to Instagram at 00:00 on March 14, providing users with an additional 48 hours of transition period.”
Russian state-owned media agency RIA Novosti reports that the ban will not affect all Meta properties, as WhatsApp will remain accessible.
The Writing Was on the Wall
Instagram was already in the Russian government’s sights and the ban should not come as a surprise. Social networks including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have taken stances against Russian misinformation on their platforms, acts that have angered the Russian government and resulted in similar responses.
Update on 3/12/22: Russia has followed through and banned Instagram.