War in Ukraine: Russia blocks WhatsApp and Instagram

WAR IN UKRANE – A form of wartime leniency. Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, announced on Thursday, March 10, that it would make exceptions to its rules on incitement to violence and hatred by failing to remove a number of posts hostile to the Russian military and its leaders.

“Due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we are lenient towards forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules for violent expression, such as ‘death to the Russian invaders,'” said an official. Meta’s communication to Agence France-Presse. “We will not continue to allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians,” he added.

Meta’s statement comes after the publication of a Reuters article, which references emails exchanged by content moderators at the social media giant. They stated that the updated regulations applied to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and Ukraine.

Immediate response from Moscow

Russia responded Friday by directly indicting Meta for “calls to kill” Russians, following this easing of regulation of violent messaging intended for the Russian military and leaders.

Russia’s powerful Commission of Inquiry has prosecuted for “public calls to extremist activities and aid in terrorist activities,” looking in particular at Andy Stone, head of communications at Meta, who announced the change on Thursday. Facebook and Instagram post rules.

The Russian Public Prosecutor’s Office asked him to classify the giant internet organization as an “extremist” organization and therefore ban all its activities in Russia. He also asks Russian telecommunications police officer Roskomnadzor to block access to Instagram and WhatsApp in the country, while Facebook has been inaccessible or difficult to access in Russia since March 4.

Such as underlines it a British journalist from Financial times as far as Russia and Ukraine are concerned, these decisions should have a concrete impact on many Russians, as the WhatsApp and Instagram applications are used in the country.

UN wants to consult with Meta

Shortly after the Russian response against Meta, the UN took up the matter, highlighting the concerns raised by this decision by Mark Zuckerberg’s group. “This is clearly a very, very complex subject, but one that raises concerns about human rights and international humanitarian law,” Elizabeth Throssel, spokeswoman for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said at a news conference in Geneva.

The vagueness surrounding this announcement “could certainly contribute to hate speech directed against Russians in general,” explained Elizabeth Throssel, stressing that “it would be deeply disturbing.” She indicated that the High Commission would speak to Meta for clarification.

“We will encourage them to take a closer look at the harm this policy change could cause,” the spokeswoman said, acknowledging that the subject needed further investigation due to the complexity of the legal concepts surrounding the inclusion of freedom of expression and freedom of expression. the specific context of a conflict.

A precedent for Iran in 2021

This is not the first time that Mark Zuckerberg’s group has tolerated this type of publication, even if the examples are rare: in June 2021, therefore, the network had authorized messages from Iranian opponents calling for the death of the Ayatollah for 2 weeks. Ali Khamenei.

Twitter has made no recent announcement regarding an update to its violent content policy. The platform did not delete a tweet last week from US Senator Lindsey Graham, in which the elected Republican called for the assassination of Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the war.

Russia has been blocking Facebook on its territory for a week now, in retaliation for the California group’s decision to ban media close to the government (including the RT channel and Sputnik site) in Europe.

With this decision, Russia joins the very closed club of countries that are banning the largest social network in the world next to China and North Korea.

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