In a Russian crackdown on Western social media giants, a court has banned Facebook and Instagram under ‘extremist’ law.
Apps owned by the parent company Meta are used widely across Russia, but messaging service WhatsApp has been spared from the block.
The Moscow court said that Meta’s Facebook and Instagram were “carrying out extremist activities”. “The activities of the Meta organisation are directed against Russia and its armed forces,” FSB representative Igor Kovalevsky told the court, the Russian state news agency TASS reported.
“The use of Meta’s products by individuals and legal entities should not be considered as participation in extremist activities,”
Kovalevsky told the court on Monday. “Individuals will not be held liable for using Meta’s services,” he added.
The move comes as Russia continues to crackdown on protesters in the country, independent news outlets and foreign social media networks.
“Since the start of the special operation in Ukraine, the authorities have sought to fully control the information sphere in the country. We should be prepared for more censorship,” said Alexander Isavnin, a Russian internet privacy advocate and member of the Pirate Party of Russia.
“The move to ban Meta is also a final warning sign to YouTube, the last major remaining western platform in the country,” Isavnin added, pointing to the recent criticism YouTube received from Russia’s communications regulator and politicians.