A court in Moscow found Meta guilty of extremist activities, but the ruling will not affect WhatsApp and will focus on the social networks, Facebook and Instagram, which are banned in the United States.
The Moscow Tver District Court said in a statement that it supports the prosecutor’s accusation against the company’s activities on Russian soil.
The Interfax news agency reported that Meta’s lawyers earlier told the court that the company was not involved in extremist activities against Russia.
It is not clear whether Meta will appeal the ban on Facebook and Instagram activities in Russia over alleged extremist activities. TASS quoted Judge Olga Solopova as saying the ban was imposed with immediate effect.
The ban prevents Meta from doing business or opening new branches in the country. The ban does not apply to WhatsApp.
The Russian news agency Roskomnadzor, which is responsible for regulating communications, stated that it had excluded Meta from the list of foreign companies operating on the Internet in Russia, Facebook and Instagram from the social media registry.
The regulator also said that Russian media should designate Meta and its social network as banned from disseminating information and ban display of its logo.
Historically, Russia has designated groups such as the Taliban as extremist. But it was later expanded to include Jehovah’s Witnesses and Alexei Navalny.
Last year, Facebook had 7.5 million users in Russia and WhatsApp 67 million. Instagram said its ban affected 80 million users in Russia.
The implications of the decision remain unclear as Facebook and Instagram have been banned in Russia. The court said WhatsApp was not affected by its decision.
The court said: The decision does not apply to the activities of the WhatsApp application because it does not have the function of disseminating information to the public.
Russia has banned Facebook from restricting access to Russian media while banning Instagram after Meta said it had allowed Ukrainian social media users to post messages calling for violence against Russian President Vladimir Putin and from Moscow to Ukraine.
A Russian court upheld the ban on Facebook and Instagram
The perceived threat to its citizens angered the Russian authorities and led to the filing of criminal charges against Meta. With the court shutting down Meta’s business operations, it is unclear how the WhatsApp service can continue to operate.
Internet traffic analysis shows that Telegram has overtaken WhatsApp as the most used messaging tool in the country in recent weeks.
Prosecutors are trying to allay fears of prosecution of people who find ways to circumvent the ban on tariff services. TASS quoted the plaintiff as saying in court: Individuals will not be prosecuted for simply using Meta services.
However, human rights lawyer Pavel Chekhov said that neither the courts nor the prosecutor’s office can guarantee the safety of Facebook or Instagram users.
Lawyers cautioned that any public display of meta codes could result in administrative costs. You can go to prison for 15 days. He wrote, “Purchasing ads or trading descriptive shares on social media can amount to financing extremist activity – a criminal offence.”
Anton Gorelkin, a member of the Information and Communications Committee of the Russian State Duma, said: “The Russian market can be reopened to Meta, but on Moscow’s terms.
Gurlikin writes: The ban on the Russian media must be lifted and the policy of neutrality restored. False and anti-Russian comments should be strictly censored. Meta complies with the law on opening a representative office in Russia.