‘Media corporations have become soldiers’: how Russia will react to actions of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp owners

Calls for violence against Russian civilians won’t be allowed

America’s Meta (former Facebook) has temporarily permitted to call for violence against Russian militaries on Facebook and Instagram due to Russia’s special operation in Ukraine.

On Twitter, Meta’s representative Andy Stone wrote the company would temporarily allow forms of “political expression” that would normally violate their terms of service, including violent speech such as “death to the Russian invaders.”

However, credible calls for violence against Russian civilians won’t be allowed.

According to TASS, the changes in the company’s policy apply to both Russia and foreign countries — Armenia, Azerbaijan, Hungary, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine and Estonia.

How Russia reacted

After this statement, calls for blocking Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp started to be issued in Russia. The Russian Embassy to the USA has officially reacted first. The embassy has called Meta’s policy “aggressive and criminal” and leading to incitement of hatred and hostility to Russians.

“The company's actions are yet another evidence of the information war without rules declared on our country. Media corporations have become soldiers of the propaganda machine of the Western establishment. We demand that the US authorities stop the extremist activities of Meta and take measures to bring the perpetrators to justice. Users of Facebook and Instagram did not give the owners of these Internet platforms the right to determine the criteria of truth and pit nations against each other,” it said.

State Duma’s speaker Vyacheslav Volodin has claimed that prosecution should be launched take measures against Meta for the incitement of hatred towards Russians. While head of the Russian Civic Chamber’s working group for online users’ rights Alexander Malkevich has asked the Russian Investigative Committee to examine Meta’s actions for assistance to spreading extremism.

Immediately after these statements, Russia’s media watchdog demanded Meta to confirm or deny the information about allowing the calls for violence against the Russian Armed Forces, said the State Duma’s deputy Khinshtein.

It should be reminded that Facebook is already blocked on the territory of Russia — the watchdog made such a decision on 4 March. According to the media regulator, 26 cases of discrimination of Russian mass media and information sources by the social network have been registered since October 2020. Facebook has recently restricted the access to the accounts of Zvezda channel, RIA Novosti news agency, Sputnik, Russia Today, Lenta.ru and Gazeta.ru.

Mizulina demands blocking YouTube too

YouTube has also been in the limelight today. Head of the Safe Internet League Yekaterina Mizulina has claimed that the video hosting service deliberately “asks for” sanctions by spreading fakes about Russia.

“Why should we tolerate if the video hosting service has live transmissions with a blatant lie about Russia whereas our mass media are shut up on this platform? Or the fact that the platform hasn’t stopped the spread of dangerous content for children for years? Will we still give them a chance to laugh at Russia and at the same time continue making a huge profit here?” she wrote on her Telegram channel.

She also specified that YouTube had been ignoring Russia’s laws for years.

“The Russian media watchdog’s requests to delete 1,500 pieces calling for participate in illegal mass events have been ignored by YouTube since the beginning of the special military operation. Also, YouTube has ignored the Russian media watchdog’s requests to delete 2,387 pieces with false information about the special military operation launched by the Russian Armed Forces,” Mizulina said.

Daria Pinegina