Facebook and Instagram users not allowed to call for death of Putin

Update from parent company Meta says ‘calls for the death of a head of state’ are banned

Facebook and Instagram users are not allowed to call for the death of Vladimir Putin, according to an update issued by their parent company.

Meta had issued new guidance on Friday allowing content that condoned the harm of Russian soldiers, with media reporting at the time that it also permitted content urging violence against the Russian president.

However, Meta’s president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, has clarified the rules on posts, stating that “calls for the death of a head of state” are banned.

Clegg said in an internal post to staff on Sunday, first reported by Bloomberg, that the new moderation rule “is never to be interpreted as condoning violence against Russians in general”.

He added: “We also do not permit calls to assassinate a head of state.”

Reuters reported last week that calls for the death of Putin, and his Belarusian counterpart and ally Alexander Lukashenko, would be allowed on Meta platforms in a limited number of countries, unless they contained other targets or have two indicators of credibility, such as the location or method.

The posts would be permitted in countries in eastern Europe and the Caucasus including Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Poland, according to internal emails to Meta’s content moderators, Reuters said.

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However, Clegg added in the internal post on Sunday that the revised policy allowing threats of violence against the Russian military only applied in Ukraine, and “only in the context of speech regarding the Russian military invasion of Ukraine”.

Despite the clarification, Russia took down the Instagram platform on Monday, cutting off 80 million users from the service. It banned Facebook on 4 March.

Last week Russia’s general prosecutor’s office said it had moved to recognise Meta as an “extremist organisation and ban its activities on the territory of Russia”.

A statement by the Russian communications regulator confirming the Instagram sanction did not refer to Meta’s other large platform, the WhatsApp messaging service. The Russian news agency RIA Novosti has reported that WhatsApp will not be banned.

Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, said on Friday that the ban was “wrong” and would cut off millions of people from access to the world.

On Monday, Instagram will be blocked in Russia. This decision will cut 80 million in Russia off from one another, and from the rest of the world as ~80% of people in Russia follow an Instagram account outside their country. This is wrong.

— Adam Mosseri (@mosseri) March 11, 2022

Meta has blocked content from the Russia state news services Russia Today and Sputnik in the UK, the EU and Ukraine, while YouTube is blocking access to Russian state media channels globally.


Dan Milmo Global technology editor

The GuardianTramp

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