Meta, formerly known as Facebook, is now a terrorist and extremist organization in Russia. Russia has decided to add the US-based tech giant Meta to its list of “terrorists and extremists,” according to a report by the Interfax news agency. Russia’s financial monitoring agency made the announcement – Rosfinmonitoring – as the conflict gains momentum in Ukraine.
Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office submitted a written request for this ban last week.
A case was filed against Meta and Mark Zuckerberg after the platform allowed a few posts on its social media platforms, Facebook and Instagram, to stay, which called for violence against the Russian military in Ukraine. A Moscow court found Meta guilty of “extremist activity” against the Russian state.
Because of this ruling, people in Russia will not be able to access any of the services Meta provides. This includes Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp but is not limited to these two social media platforms. Although the ban on these two platforms hasn’t been implemented yet, a report by Insider suggests that the prohibition can come into effect almost immediately, depending on the government’s will.
Mark Zuckerberg, who owned Meta and was one of the co-accused in the case, was already on the list of individuals barred by the Russian foreign ministry from entering the country. In April this year, the Russian foreign ministry put out a list of more than 900 American and Canadian citizens who were barred from entering the country. If confident Russian lawmakers are to be believed, Russia would eventually impose sanctions upon whom. Apart from Mark Zuckerberg, the list included the Vice President of the US, Kamala Harris, Ryan Roslansky, the CEO of LinkedIn, and several other tech entrepreneurs.
In the official statement, Rosfinmonitoring said that Meta has been biased towards the western countries in the coverage of the Ukraine-Russia crisis. They said the company is “discriminating” against Russian news outlets and has restricted user access to outlets like Sputnik and Russia Today.
Facebook and Instagram have been inaccessible in Russia since March of this year due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. However, the platforms were not banned immediately back then. Meta withdrew their services from the country, following which Russia also banned Facebook and Instagram, but now WhatsApp.
Because Russian ISPs didn’t ban it, users could still access the platforms through VPNs. Even though Russia has forbidden the platform, users may still be able to access these platforms through VPNs, but they risk getting severe punishment from Russian authorities.