Instagram users in Russia were warned Sunday that they will be blocked starting at midnight — after the platform changed its hate-speech policy to allow Ukrainians to share messages such as “Death to the Russian invaders.”
A Russian communications regulator told users in an e-mail to move their photos and videos from Instagram before they are no longer able to access them, while suggesting they switch to the country’s own “competitive internet platforms.
“We need to ensure the psychological health of citizens, especially children and adolescents, to protect them from harassment and insults online,” regulator Roskomnadzor said.
The head of Instagram said the block will affect 80 million users on the platform.
Meta, which also owns Instagram and Facebook, had announced a new policy Friday applying only to Ukraine that allows calls for violence in posts about the Russian invasion into the country.
The company said it would be wrong to prevent Ukrainians from “expressing their resistance and fury at the invading military forces.”
President Zelensky applauded the company Sunday.
“War is not only a military opposition on [Ukraine] land. It is also a fierce battle in the informational space,” Zelensky wrote on Twitter. “I want to thank @Meta and other platforms that have an active position that help and stand side by side with the Ukrainians.”
But Meta’s decision was met with backlash in Russia, where authorities have opened a criminal investigation into the company and prosecutors asked a court to classify the tech giant as an “extremist organization.”
Roskomnadzor, the Russian regulator, said Sunday that the move to allow hate speech in posts about Russian forces was a breach of international law.
With Post Wires