Instagram blocked in Russia because Moscow says it is being used to call for violence

Russian regulators said on Friday that the country’s Internet users would be barred from accessing Instagram, saying it was being used for violence against Russian troops.

In a recent move to restrict access to foreign social media platforms, communications and media regulator Roskomnadzor, Moscow said in a statement that it was restricting national access to Instagram. It said the platform was spreading “calls for violence against Russian citizens, including military personnel.”

Roskomnadzor quoted a tweet Thursday by Meta spokesman Andy Stone conveying A company statement said it had “paid for forms of political expression that would generally violate our rules on violent rhetoric, such as the ‘death of Russian invaders’.”

Stone’s statement follows a Reuters report that Meta is making a temporary change in its hate speech policy to allow Facebook and Instagram users in some countries to call for violence against Russian and Russian troops in the wake of the Ukraine invasion.

The statement stressed that the agency “will not yet allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians.”

Facebook’s parent Meta, who also owns Instagram, defended Friday, describing it as a “temporary decision” taken in “extraordinary and unprecedented circumstances.”

“I want to be crystal clear: our policies focus on protecting the right of the people to speak as an expression of self-defense in response to their country’s military aggression,” Nick Clegg, meta president of Global Affairs, said in a statement on Friday.

“In fact, if we apply our standard content policies without any adjustment, we will now remove from the ordinary Ukrainians the content of their resistance and resentment towards the invading military, which would be rightly seen as unacceptable,” Clegg added.

He noted that the policy applies only to Ukraine and that the organization has not changed its policy against hate speech targeting the Russian people.

Russia has already blocked access to Facebook, limited access to Twitter, and criminalized the deliberate dissemination of what Moscow considers “fake” reports as part of President Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on social media and news outlets such as the BBC.

Large technology companies, meanwhile, have gone so far as to restrict Russian state media from using their platforms to spread propaganda and misinformation.

YouTube said Friday it was blocking global access to Russian state-funded media-linked channels. It had previously blocked them – especially RT and Sputnik – across Europe.

YouTube, which is owned by Google, announced the move in a Twitter post, saying that while the change would take effect immediately, it would take time to ramp up the systems. It says it is also removing content about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that “minimizes or belittles well-documented violence.”

The Kremlin described the attack as a “special military operation” and not a war. YouTube has previously blocked YouTube ads in Russia. Now, it is expanding in all ways to make money on the Russian platform.

Meta has also banned Russian state media from Instagram and Facebook.

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