The Meta-owned social networking sites were blocked in the country at the beginning of March and now a judge has ruled that they will remain so as a result of “extremist activities.”
In a translated statement obtained by outlet TASS, Judge Olga Solopova said: “The court has granted the lawsuit filed by the first deputy prosecutor general of Russia against the holding company Meta Platforms Inc. seeking a ban on operations on the territory of Russia.
The operations of the U.S. transnational holding company Meta Platforms Inc. to sell products, the social networks Facebook and Instagram, on the territory of Russia, is banned on the grounds of extremist activities. The court decision is to be fulfilled immediately.”
However, the ban on Meta operations does not apply to the messenger WhatsApp, which also comes under the Meta umbrella of social media apps.
Solopova added: “This decision does not apply to the operations of Meta’s messenger WhatsApp due to its absence of functions for public information dissemination.”
The ban comes just a week after Facebook issued a “temporary change” in policy as a result of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine – which was started when Russian president Vladimir Putin launched a military invasion on its neighbouring country at the end of February – and will allow users to post “forms of political expression” not normally permitted.
Meta spokesperson Andy Stone told The Verge: “As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine we have temporarily made allowances for forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules like violent speech such as ‘death to the Russian invaders.’ We still won’t allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians.”