MOSCOW, March 11. /TASS/. Head of the State Duma Committee on Information Policy Alexander Khinshtein said Instagram should be blocked in Russia if its owner Meta confirms or declines to comment on reports that it has allowed calls for violence against Russian troops.
"If Meta confirms this fact or declines to comment, that will be a reason for Roscomnadzor and other colleagues to take the toughest measures," he told TASS. "My opinion is that the work of Instagram in Russia in this case should be blocked, like what’s happened to Facebook."
He said the Russian communications watchdog had demanded that Meta officially confirm or deny reports that it had allowed calls for violence against Russian servicemen.
The lawmaker also said on Rossiya-24 television that if the Big Tech company fails to respond, it "will be treated as a confirmation" of the reports.
Reuters earlier reported, citing the company’s internal emails, that Facebook and Instagram in some countries won’t ban calls for violence regarding certain Russian citizens, such as soldiers. The report said Meta’s emails reveal calls for violence against Russians are allowed when a message explicitly refers to the military operation in Ukraine. These changes in the company’s policy apply to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Hungary, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine and Estonia. According to the news service, the company will also temporarily not remove calls for death to the presidents of Russia and Belarus, Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko, if they are posted in Poland, Russia or Ukraine.
Meta later said it has temporarily allowed calls for violence against Russian troops in the context of the military operation in Ukraine. The company’s representative Andy Stone said on Twitter that "we have temporarily made allowances for forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules like violent speech" including threats to Russian troops. He added credible calls for violence against Russian civilians will remain prohibited but didn’t say how infractions will be moderated and identified with these policy changes.