Russia’s Prosecutor General asked a court to formally designate Facebook and Instagram owner Meta as an extremist organization.
“Consistent with the Federal Law on Countering Extremist Activities, the Russian Prosecutor General’s office has lodged a motion with a court for designating Meta Platforms Inc. as an extremist organization and banning its operations in the territory of the Russian Federation,” said the office on Friday, according to the Interfax news agency.
At the same time, the Russian Investigative Committee said it was probing the social media company “in light of unlawful calls for violence against citizens of the Russian Federation by employees of the U.S. company Meta.”
It came after Meta spokesman Andy Stone said that Facebook temporarily lifted a ban on calls for violence against Russian soldiers on its platforms. The Russian Prosecutor General cited Stone’s remark for the ban.
“As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine we have 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,” Stone said in a statement to news outlets on Thursday.
Reports citing internal Meta emails indicated that the new policy applies to countries such as Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania.
At the same time, Russia’s Prosecutor General demanded the Russian communications agency, Roskomnadzor, started restricting access to Instagram. The agency last week took action against Facebook and Twitter, effectively blocking the platforms inside Russia.
“In light of that, the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office has demanded that Roskomnadzor block access to the Instagram social network,” the Prosecutor General said in a statement Friday.
Several weeks ago, Facebook confirmed that it would allow the praise of Ukraine’s Azov battalion, which openly uses Nazi imagery and symbols. Azov also has been alleged to have carried out war crimes and torture since 2014.
Joe Osborne, a spokesman, told CNN that the company was “for the time being, making a narrow exception for praise of the Azov Regiment strictly in the context of defending Ukraine, or in their role as part of the Ukraine National Guard.”
Amid the flurry of requests, it’s likely that all Meta-owned services will be banned in Facebook in the near future, said a top official in Russia’s Duma, Sergei Boyarsky. He said the new policy shift endangers the lives of Russians, as reported by Interfax.
In the past week or so, major social media companies have announced new content restrictions or outright bans of Russian media outlets, including state-run Russia Today and Sputnik News.
The Epoch Times has contacted Meta for comment.