Users in Russia had until midnight on Sunday to upload their latest photos on Instagram, the messaging platform being blocked in Russia, as well as Facebook, after the owner of Meta was declared an extremist organization by the power from Kremlin.
The blockade is imposed by Roskomnadzor, the digital equivalent of the Iron Curtain, a government entity created on the model of China, to facilitate widespread censorship of Russia’s online environment.
Officially, the move is justified in response to the decision by the owner of Meta, a US company, to tolerate the distribution of hate speech and violence against the Russian military and President Putin. Unofficially, we can assume that blocking communication platforms outside the influence of the Kremlin-controlled censorship apparatus was inevitable in Russia anyway, with Facebook and Instagram administrator “contributing” only with one last act of defiance.
The owner of Facebook and Instagram said on Friday that changing his hate speech policy is a temporary move that only applies to Ukraine, following Russia’s February 24 invasion.
The company said it was wrong to prevent Ukrainians from “expressing resistance and anger at the invading military.”
Predictably, the decision was received with outrage in Russia, where authorities have opened a criminal investigation against Meta, and prosecutors on Friday asked the court to classify the American technology giant as an “extremist organization.”
According to the Instagram administrator, the blockade imposed by the Roskomnadzor authority affects 80 million users, respectively, more than half of the total population of Russia, estimated at 144.1 million people. Of course, the figure also includes duplicate accounts registered in Russia, the actual number of users in this country is certainly lower.
“We need to ensure the psychological health of citizens, especially children and adolescents, to protect them from online harassment and insults,” the statement said, explaining the decision to shut down the platform.