A Russian court has banned Facebook and Instagram in the country, labeling its parent company Meta as “extremist”. Russia had approached the court to declare Meta an extremist organization after it eased its hate speech policies to allow calls for violence against Russians on Facebook and Instagram.
Access to Facebook and Instagram was already restricted in Russia after the company’s decision to allow hate speech against Russian soldiers and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Meta had later clarified that they do not allow calls for assassinations of heads of state, and relaxation in their rules is only for speech against Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Nick Clegg, President, Global Affairs, for Meta had tweeted out a statement saying that the relaxed hate speech rules will apply only to the people in Ukraine. He had tried to claim that this will not be used against ordinary Russians and they will not support any Russophobia.
Responding to reports that the Russian government is considering designating Meta as an extremist organization for its policies in support of speech: pic.twitter.com/Y8sUbZDSML— Nick Clegg (@nickclegg) March 11, 2022
However, the court in Moscow didn’t buy Meta’s arguments. The court concluded that Facebook and Instagram, highly popular among Russians, were carrying out extremist activities. However, the court decided not to ban Meta’s Whatsapp service noting that it is a means of communication, and not a source of information.
“The activities of Meta are directed against Russia and its armed forces. We ask that Meta be banned and that this decision be enforced immediately,” Igor Kovalevsky, a spokesperson for Russia’s FSB security service, reportedly told the court.
Kovalevsky further said in the court ,“The use of Meta’s products by individuals and legal entities should not be considered as participation in extremist activities. Individuals will not be held liable for using Meta’s services.”
Facebook and Instagram may not be the last western social media giants to get banned from Russia during the course of the ongoing war with Ukraine. Last week, Russian communications watchdog had accused Google and its subsidiary YouTube of terrorist activities asking them to stop broadcasting anti-Russian videos.