Russia’s decision to block access to Instagram comes just one day after Meta, the parent company, announced a temporary relaxation of rules to allow for violent threats.
Instagram’s CEO has called Russia’s planned blockade of the social media site a “wrong” step because it will harm 80 million users. Moscow’s decision to block access to the enormously popular Instagram comes a day after its parent company, Meta, announced a temporary relaxation of regulations to enable violent threats such as “death to Russian invaders” to be posted on its social media platforms.

“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, head of Instagram, wrote of Twitter.

In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has resulted in fatalities and relocation in the war-torn country, Meta has relaxed its hate speech policy. Since the Russian invasion began late last month, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have fled the nation. The UN expressed concern that the social media giant’s decision to allow demands for violence against the Russian military could generate “hate speech” against Russians.

Meta president has his say

Meanwhile, Meta’s worldwide relations president Nick Clegg emphasised that the company’s hate speech policy has been relaxed for people in Ukraine, in what appeared to be damage control. The laws are aimed at “preserving people’s rights to speech as an expression of self-defence in response to a military invasion of their nation,” according to a top Meta official.

“The fact is, 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,” Clegg said, stressing that there is no change in policies as far as Russia’s civilians are concerned. “We will not tolerate Russophobia or any kind of discrimination, harassment or violence towards Russians on our platform,” he added.

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