Russia adds Meta to ‘terrorist and extremist’ groups list

Russia on Tuesday added US tech giant Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook, to a list of “terrorist and extremist” organisations, according to a database of the Federal Service for Financial Monitoring (Rosfinmonitoring).

Russia in late March banned Facebook and Instagram for “carrying out extremist activities” after authorities accused Meta of tolerating “Russophobia” during Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine.

Meta had announced on March 10 that the platforms would allow statements like “death to Russian invaders” but not credible threats against civilians, before saying the change only applied to users posting from inside Ukraine.

Facebook and Instagram have been inaccessible in Russia since March, but many Russians resorted to VPN to keep using the social media network.

Also read: How Meta fumbled propaganda moderation during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Prominent human rights lawyer Pavel Chikov said the latest move “in itself, did not really change anything” but was a reminder of the risks associated with using Meta apps “considering prosecutors are being proactive”.

On Telegram, the lawyer said users could be prosecuted for mentioning Meta without disclaiming the ban on its activities, or for showing the logo of any Meta organisations.

Russian companies that advertise on Meta can also be accused of participating in the activities of an extremist organisation, according to Chikov.

The ban does not apply to popular messenger app Whatsapp.

Instagram is particularly popular in Russia and used to be a key platform for advertisement and sales.

Billions of people use Meta’s app around the world.

This decision puts Meta on the same list as right-wing nationalist groups, foreign terrorist organisations including the Taliban and Russian opposition groups.

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