“A criminal case has been initiated in the Main Investigation Department of the Russian Investigative Committee in connection with illegal calls for murder and violence against citizens of the Russian Federation by employees of the American company Meta, which owns the social networks Facebook and Instagram,” the Investigative Committee’s statement said, citing the policy change.
“These actions contain signs of crimes under Articles 280 and 205.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation – public calls for extremist activities; assistance to terrorist activities,” the statement reads.
Reuters reported Thursday getting access to internal Meta emails which allege the company will allow Facebook and Instagram users in some countries to call for violence against the Russian military invading Ukraine. Meta later clarified that it would only apply the policy change for users in Ukraine.
“In light of the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, we made a temporary exception for those affected by war, to express violent sentiments toward invading armed forces such as ‘death to the Russian invaders.’ These are temporary measures designed to preserve voice and expression for people who are facing invasion, “Meta said in a statement to CNN Thursday. “As always, we are prohibiting calls for violence against Russians outside of the narrow context of the current invasion.”
Roskonadzor, Russia’s information watchdog, said Friday it will restrict access to Instagram, saying the “social network distributes informational materials containing calls to commit violent acts against citizens of the Russian Federation, including military personnel.”
On Friday afternoon, Clegg released a statement saying the policy change is “focused on protecting people’s rights to speech as an expression of self-defense in reaction to a military invasion of their country.”
“We have no quarrel with the Russian people,” Clegg said in the statement. “There is no change at all in our policies on hate speech as far as the Russian people are concerned. We will not tolerate Russophobia or any kind of discrimination, harassment or violence towards Russians on our platform.”
The new restrictions come amid a broader crackdown on tech companies in Russia.