Russia acted on its previous threat and blocked Meta Platforms’ Instagram on Monday, March 14. The block on Instagram led to them cutting off Instagram’s access to tens of millions Russian users of the app. The social media app is known to be quite popular in Russia. In fact, its Meta’s second most widely used app after WhatsApp, according to Sensor Tower. The app has been installed around 166 million times across the country, thrice as much as Facebook.
Roskomnadzor, Russian censor made the announcement about the government restricting the social media app. This was prior to a 48-hour “transition period,” Adam Mosseri, the Head of Instagram condemned Russia’s actions. This condemnation is expected to have an impact on 80 million people in Russia.
On Monday, Instagram will be blocked in Russia. This decision will cut 80 million in Russia off from one another, and from the rest of the world as ~80% of people in Russia follow an Instagram account outside their country. This is wrong.
— Adam Mosseri (@mosseri) March 11, 2022
In the second week of this month, a report came in stating Meta’s actions on Russia. Reportedly, the tech company had quietly formatted its content policies with respect to the war in Ukraine. The change enabled calls to violence against the soldiers of Russia from within the country. In light of this, Roskomnadzor wrote a blog post alleging Meta of triggering hostility against Russian people.
“As you know, on March 11, Meta Platforms Inc. made an unprecedented decision by allowing the posting of information containing calls for violence against Russian citizens on its social networks Facebook and Instagram,”
Nick Clegg, President Global Affairs of Meta defended the shift in policy, citing it as just a temporary change. The alteration was aimed at securing people’s right to speech as a way of self-defence. He stated how without the changes, they “would be removing content from Ukrainian” people expressing their feelings, which would be “unacceptable.”
Clearly, Russian government’s restriction on Meta’s Instagram sounds rather harsh. However, tech experts could easily be able find a way to alter their locations using various ways. These include the facilities of VPNs and Tor, which are used in order to gain access to Western social networks that are blocked. Twitter recently launched its own censorship system last week. This was keeping in mind the recent Russian restrictions. This workaround was aimed towards dedicating a Tor version of the social network.
Instagram now joins Facebook in the family of Meta’s apps that are banned in Russia. It is not clear as to whether they will take a step for WhatsApp, which is also under Meta. Though TikTok is still available in the country, Twitter is currently banned in Russia.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>On Monday, Instagram will be blocked in Russia. This decision will cut 80 million in Russia off from one another, and from the rest of the world as ~80% of people in Russia follow an Instagram account outside their country. This is wrong.</p>— Adam Mosseri (@mosseri) <a href=”https://twitter.com/mosseri/status/1502431327093604352?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>March 11, 2022</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>