The Russian court recently upheld the ban on Instagram and Facebook in the country, accusing the parent company, Meta, of “extremist activity.”
The Russian government recently blocked Facebook and Instagram for their actions against the invasion of Ukraine. Moreover, the Russian authorities have previously opened a criminal case against Meta after Facebook announced it would temporarily allow for hate speech against Russian president Vladimir Putin.
In the meantime, WhatsApp has been able to overcome these restrictions and currently save itself from any blocking. The Russian courts still had no ruling against WhatsApp. However, the meta-owned messaging app may join the bandwagon of blocked platforms in Russia.
Of course, the reason why WhatsApp has not been blocked in Russia yet can be found in its solid user base in the country. According to a 2021 survey from Deloitte, roughly 80% of Russians over the age of 14 are using WhatsApp.
The messaging app market in Russia is divided between WhatsApp and Telegram. Of course, recent restrictions and fears of WhatsApp being blocked have led more users to use Telegram. Telegram is now replacing WhatsApp as Russia’s most popular messaging app.
All Meta activities in Russia have been suspended
As per the Russian state media agency TASS, Meta can no longer open offices or do business in Russia. Of course, despite the blocking of Meta services and platforms in the country, Russian citizens will not be penalized if they use them. Blocking Western platforms in Russia has led many citizens to use VPNs.
“The use of Meta’s products by individuals and legal entities should not be considered as participation in extremist activities,” a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office told TASS.
Of course, the Russian government closely monitors the content published by its citizens on Western platforms. Also, they have considered penalties for publishing “fake news” or comments about the invasion of Ukraine. Arrest, dismissal, and suspension from school are among the punishments provided.
Roku and YouTube also banned Russian state media RT and Sputnik from broadcasting their channels globally. Moreover, Google Play and App Store don’t allow Russian citizens to pay for apps or services.