MOSCOW, March 11. /TASS/. Meta, the US-based tech giant, has reportedly lifted a ban on inciting violence against Russian troops on the social network platforms it operates, namely, Facebook and Instagram. Permitting these calls is viewed as a form of extremism under Russian law because the corporation is instigating ethnic conflicts, a legislator in the State Duma, the Russian parliament’s lower house, said on Friday.
"What Meta does is called ‘incitement of ethnic hatred’, which qualifies as extremism under Russian law," the Deputy Head of the State Duma Committee on Informational Policy, Technologies and Communications Anton Gorelkin said.
"One needn’t be a legal expert to understand that the corporation is intentionally pitting large ethnic groups against each other," he continued.
Gorelkin believes that a legal evaluation of the Big Tech company’s steps "would come at short notice."
"Extremist organizations are outlawed" in Russia, the lawmaker stressed.
Reuters news agency reported earlier, citing Meta’s internal messaging, that calls for violence against Russian nationals, particularly Russian soldiers, wouldn’t be blocked in a number of countries. According to the news agency, Meta’s internal e-mail correspondence shows that calls for violence against Russians are permitted when the users’ posts are about the Russian special operation in Ukraine.
The company’s policy exemptions are now in force in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Hungary, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine and Estonia. According to Reuters, Meta will not be temporarily deleting posts originating in Poland, Russia or Ukraine advocating the assassination of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
Meta later acknowledged that it allowed calls for the violence against Russian troops in view of the special military operation in Ukraine. Meta Spokesman Andy Stone wrote on Twitter that the company had "temporarily made allowances for forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules like violent speech, such as ‘death to the Russian invaders’."
"We still won’t allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians," he added.
On February 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed decrees at a ceremony in the Kremlin recognizing the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR). Putin met with DPR leader Denis Pushilin and LPR leader Leonid Pasechnik, and signed treaties with them on friendship, cooperation and mutual aid between Russia and both republics.
President Putin said in a televised address on February 24 that in response to a request from the heads of the Donbass republics, he had decided to carry out a special military operation in order to protect people "who have been suffering from abuse and genocide by the Kiev regime for eight years." The Russian leader stressed that Moscow had no plans to occupy Ukrainian territory.
The Russian Defense Ministry reassured earlier that Russian troops are not targeting Ukrainian cities, and are limited to surgical strikes and incapacitating Ukrainian military infrastructure, insisting that there is no threat whatsoever to the civilian population.