Millions of Instagram subscribers in Russia will not be able to access the social media platform from Monday March 14, 2022.
The Russian government said it would block Instagram, expanding its social media crackdown that had already cut off access to Facebook and restricted Twitter for the tens of millions of people in the country who use these apps daily.
On Friday, the Russian government’s communication agency announced it would block Instagram in Russia beginning on March 14, saying it was in response to Facebook’s decision to temporarily allow users in some countries to call for violence against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian soldiers, in the context of the invasion. Around the same time, the Russian government also said it is seeking to declare Facebook an “extremist organization.”
“We have no quarrel with the Russian people,” Meta (Facebook’s parent company) president of global affairs Nick Clegg tweeted in a statement on Friday. He said that allowing Ukrainian calls for violence against the Russian army on Facebook is “protecting people’s rights to speech as an expression of self-defense in reaction to a military invasion of their country.”
Russia’s restrictions on social media come at a time when the government is unsurprisingly increasing its clamp-down on the free press and other sources of information to control the narrative about its invasion of Ukraine (which Russian media is not allowed to call a war, but instead a “special military operation”). In the past few weeks, the few remaining independent local news outlets in Russia that are not government-affiliated have been shut down, Putin signed a new law that threatens up to 15 years in jail for Russians who post “fake news” about the invasion, and the government has already arrested thousands of anti-war protesters.