Russians will launch ‘Rasgram’ photo-sharing social media app after Instagram

Russian technology entrepreneurs are set to launch a photo-sharing application in the domestic market to help fill the void left by Instagram, which authorities blocked this week. The new service, known as Rosgram, will launch on March 28 and will have access to additional functions such as crowdfunding and payment for certain content, its website said on Wednesday.

“My partner Kirill Filimonov and our group of developers were already ready for the event and decided not to miss the opportunity to create a Russian analogue of a popular social network, a favorite of our countrymen,” Alexander Jobov, public relations director of the enterprise, wrote on VKontakte social network.

Russia’s state communications regulator Roskomnadzor has blocked access to Instagram since Monday when its US owner Meta said last week that it would allow Ukrainian social media users to post messages such as “Death to Russian invaders”.

Meta, who also owns Facebook, said the temporary change in its hate speech policy after Russia’s aggression had only been implemented in Ukraine, adding that it would be wrong for Ukrainians to “resist and resent the invading military”.

Meta said on Sunday that it was tightening its content restraint policy for Ukraine to ban any head of state from calling for his death.

Russia, which has already banned Facebook, has launched a criminal investigation against Meter, and prosecutors have asked a court to designate a US technology giant as an “extremist organization.” The case is set to be heard on Monday.

According to a photo shared by Zobov on Vkontakte, Rossgram’s color scheme and layout will carry a strong resemblance to Instagram. Meta immediately responded to a request for comment on Rossgram’s design.

In recent months, Russia has been developing its domestic technology, including the AYYA T1 smartphone produced by the state-owned Rostec.

In November, Gazprom Media launched Yappy as a domestic competitor to the video-sharing platform TikTok.

Thomson Reuters 2022

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