Russia To Ban Instagram And Label Meta An Extremist Organization

Russia To Ban Instagram And Label Meta An Extremist Organization

Amid the ongoing Russian-Ukraine war, the Russian government recently announced its plan to ban the operation of Instagram in the country and also plans to label meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram an extremist organization. This statement was disclosed in a news report by the Russian state agency Ria Nu on Friday afternoon after Russia’s prosecutor general’s office opened a criminal case against Meta.

This decision to ban meta by the Russian government was triggered after Russia stated that Meta was making an unprecedented decision by allowing the posting of information containing calls for violence against Russian citizens which has made Russia block access to Facebook in the country. Facebook temporarily allowed posts on the Russian-Ukraine war calling for violence against Russian invaders. This act by Meta saw them going against their hate speech policy that allowed some Facebook and Instagram users to express violent sentiments against Russian armed forces invading Ukraine.

Seeing the allegations made by the Russian government, Meta later came out to clarify that the change of policy would only apply to users in Ukraine. In a statement issued by Meta, they had this to say, “In the light of the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, we made a temporary exception for those affected by war, to express violent sentiments towards invading armed forces such as death to the Russian invaders. These are temporary measures designed to preserve voice and expression for people who are facing invasion. As always we are prohibiting calls for violence against Russians outside of the narrow context”

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I understand Facebook’s intention of letting the world know what is going on with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, although I don’t think their temporal change of hate speech policy is ideal. They have a policy against hate speech and they ought to stick to it no matter any situation. Hate speech is generally unacceptable whether in democracy or autocracy, whatever the grievance may be. Facebook is used across the globe by people with divergent views on the conflict in Ukraine, and it is so wrong for Facebook to place itself in this position rather than remain neutral.

What Facebook fails to note is that some extremists on the internet will extend the hate speech to not just the president, but also innocent Russian civilians will be roped in despite their innocence in the whole issue. Already, there is a rising case of Russophobia sweeping through Central Europe. Although Facebook has stated that they do not quarrel with the Russian people and said the company will not tolerate Russophobia or any kind of discrimination, harassment, or violence towards Russians on its platform.

As it stands now, what the world needs right now is peace, and such a move by Facebook will not deter Russia from its actions on Ukraine, rather it will escalate things. The Russian government has demanded that the US authorities stop the extremist activities of Meta and take measures to bring the perpetrators to justice. They stated that users of Facebook and Instagram do not have the right to determine the criteria of truth and should desist from pitting nations against each other.

With the ban, according to Forbes, Russia’s crackdown on Instagram and Facebook will produce a billion-dollar hit on the parent company’s revenue (meta), an unexpected loss that will compound some concerns about Meta’s side.

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