HomeNewsRussia Blocks Instagram for Tens of Millions of Users

Russia Blocks Instagram for Tens of Millions of Users

by Anna Dunn
(Photo Illustration by Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Russia has blocked Instagram. This cuts off access for the millions of users in the country after parent company Meta changed its policies.

At a Glance

  • Russia has blocked Instagram in the country after the Meta-owned company changed its policies
  • Instagram changed those policies, which Russian censor Roskomnadzor alleged encourages violence against Russians.
  • Instagram is popular in Russia and connects users with those in other countries.
  • Instagram’s head said the decision will “cut 80 million in Russia off from one another and from the rest of the world.”
  • Russia’s Investigative committee wants the Russian courts to label Meta (formerly Facebook) as an “extremist organization.”

Russia Blocked Instagram Following A Policy Change

Considering that Instagram is the second most popular app in Russia, this is going to impact a lot of people. Some worry that this move will further cut off Russian citizens from the outside world. And according to Tech Crunch, the country blocked the app today.

Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri criticized this action, writing that, “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.”

Roskomnadzor wrote about the decision to block Instagram in a blog post. “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.”

Here’s More on That ‘Calls for Violence’ Policy

 Earlier this month, Reuters reported that Meta (formerly known as Facebook) discreetly changed its policies for its platforms. The temporary change in the content policy is only for Instagram and Facebook users in Ukraine. The company argued that the policy was needed to let Ukrainians freely voice opposition to the Russian Invasion of the country.

The company said that it would allow posts from Ukrainians that said “death to the Russian invaders.” However, Meta noted that it will still remove posts encouraging violence against Russian citizens.

Russia’s Investigative Committee, which reports directly to Putin, is trying to take legal action against the company. It’s asking the court to designate it as an “extremist organization.” According to Reuters, it’s not quite clear what the concrete consequences of doing so would be.

Meta Global Affairs President Nick Clegg responded via Tweet following the pushback from the Russian government.

“If we applied our standard content policies without any adjustments we would now be removing content from ordinary Ukrainians expressing their resistance and fury at the invading military forces. Which would rightly be viewed as unacceptable,” he wrote.

“We have no quarrel with the Russian people,” he continued. “There is no change at all in our policies on hate speech as far as the Russian people are concerned.”