August 13, 2022
Facebook, Instagram blocked access to Russian-backed separatist areas in eastern Ukraine

The Russian-backed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) in eastern Ukraine said on Wednesday they had blocked access to Facebook and Instagram, aligning themselves with Russia’s policy on the US-based social network Is.

Moscow recognized the two separatist regions as independent on 21 February, and three days later launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which it calls a “special military operation”, partly aimed at protecting Russian-speaking areas there. To do.

“Access to the information resources of the US company Meta, which allows calls for violence against Russian-speaking users on its social network, has already been blocked,” the DNR’s Ministry of Communications said in a statement.

“In light of this, access to the social networks Facebook and Instagram is blocked on the territory of the republic.”

In a separate statement, the LNR Communications Ministry said it has also blocked access to the social network.

The meta platform did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Russia banned Facebook and Instagram in March after a court found Meta guilty of “extremist activity”. Moscow had already barred Russian media outlets from accessing Facebook to restrict access to the platform.

Russia’s state communications regulator blocked access to Instagram in March when Meta said it would allow social media users in Ukraine to post messages such as “the death of Russian invaders.”

Meta said the temporary change to its hate speech policy only applies to Ukraine.

Russia, since backing a pro-Russian insurgency following the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, has forged close ties with Donetsk and Luhansk, known collectively as the Donbass.

Both regions receive financial aid from Moscow, use the Russian ruble as their currency and teach Russian courses in their schools.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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