Russia says it will block Instagram

Russia blocks Instagram

Russia blocks Instagram

The Russian government has now said it will limit access to Instagram. It’s the latest state restriction targeting mainstream foreign tech platforms since the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russia is blaming a hate-speech policy change by Meta, reported earlier by Reuters, for censoring Instagram.

But the move comes as Putin continues to tighten his grip on the digital information sphere to try to prevent Russians citizens from bypassing state propaganda and accessing uncensored information on the war — such as bypassing a new law criminalizing independent reporting on the Russian military (which comes with the threat of up to 15 years in prison for those spreading “false” information).

Twitter launches Tor service allowing users in Russia to bypass internet blocks

At the time of writing, a source inside Russia said the Instagram app is still accessible for them — but they noted it “usually takes a couple of days til all mobile operators and internet providers block it on their side”.

Facebook and Twitter were already facing restrictions inside Russia — but Instagram, which is extremely popular in the country, had not been named as a target for restrictions until now.

Instagram is thought to have around 60 million users in Russia.

Facebook was hit with a “partial” restriction inside Russia on February 25, after the platform limited access to a number of state-affiliated media outlets.

Around the same time, Twitter users also reported issues with accessing its site — and the company later confirmed reports of “difficulties” for Russian users to access the service, saying it was working to restore full access.

Twitter has since launched a dedicated Tor onion service — providing a workaround for anyone seeking to bypass state censorship to access its network. (Facebook has had a Tor service since 2014.)

Russia’s move against Instagram follows a specific policy shift by Meta — which has faced some wider criticism on human rights grounds (including from the UN).

The Reuters news agency reported earlier today it had obtained confirmation that Meta was temporarily allowing users in some countries to call for violence against some Russians in light of the Ukraine war — suspending its standard hate speech rules in this context. 


Russia blocks Instagram

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