Russia widens social media crackdown by blocking Instagram
(AP) — Russian regulators said Friday that internet users will be blocked from accessing Instagram because it’s being used to call for violence against Russian soldiers, in Moscow’s latest move to tighten up access to foreign social platforms.
The communications and media regulator, Roskomnadzor, said in a statement that it’s restricting national access to Instagram because the platform is spreading “calls to commit violent acts against Russian citizens, including military personnel.”
Facebook parent Meta Platforms, which also owns Instagram, didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment.
Roskomnadzor specifically cited a Thursday tweet by Meta spokesman Andy Stone conveying a company statement saying it had “made allowances for forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules on violent speech, such as ‘death to the Russian invaders’.”
Stone’s statement followed a Reuters report that Meta was making a temporary change to its hate speech policy to allow Facebook and Instagram users in some countries to call for violence against Russians and Russian soldiers in the context of the Ukraine invasion.
The statement stressed that the company “still won’t allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians.”
Russian has already blocked access to Facebook, limited access to Twitter and criminalized the intentional spreading of what Moscow deems to be “fake” reports, as part of President Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on social media and news outlets like the BBC.
Big tech companies, meanwhile, have moved to restrict Russian state media from using their platforms to spread propaganda and misinformation, especially for European users.
Google has blocked European users from viewing YouTube channels operated by RT and Sputnik, which TikTok has disabled their European accounts. Meta has barred Russian state media from Instagram and Facebook.