Instagram users in Russia have been informed that the service will be shut down starting Sunday midnight after its owner Meta platform said last week that it would allow social media users in Ukraine to post messages such as “the death of Russian invaders”.
An email message from the state communications regulator asked people to move their photos and videos from Instagram before it was shut down, and encouraged them to switch to Russia’s own “competing Internet platform”.
Meta, which also owns Facebook, said on Friday that the temporary change to its hate speech policy applied only to Ukraine in the wake of Russia’s February 24 invasion.
The company said it would be wrong to prevent Ukrainians from “expressing their resistance and anger at the invading forces”.
The decision was greeted with outrage in Russia, where officials have launched a criminal investigation against Meta and prosecutors asked a court on Friday to designate the US tech giant as an “extremist organization”.
The head of Instagram has said that 80 million users will be affected by this block. Russia has already banned Facebook in the country, which it said was a ban on access to Russian media on the platform.
The regulator Roskomnadzor’s message to Instagram users called the decision to allow calls for violence against Russians a violation of international law.
Explaining the decision to shut down the platform, “we need to ensure the psychological health of citizens, especially children and adolescents, to be protected from online harassment and humiliation.”
© Thomson Reuters 2022