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Russia’s Attempt to Detain Meta Spokesperson Exposed Amid Media Clampdown


Russia's Attempt to Detain Meta Spokesperson Exposed Amid Media Clampdown

Russia Places Meta’s Communications Director on Wanted List Amidst New Media Restrictions

In a recent revelation, Russia has added Andy Stone, the communications director of Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, to its wanted list on unspecified criminal charges. This development comes in the wake of Moscow’s announcement of heightened media restrictions leading up to the presidential election scheduled for next year.

The move to classify Meta as a “terrorist and extremist” organization last year has significant implications, potentially subjecting Russians using Facebook and Instagram to criminal charges. The list includes various entities, ranging from right-wing nationalist groups and foreign terrorist organizations like the Taliban to Russian opposition groups.

According to Mediazona, an independent news website covering Russia’s opposition and prison system, Stone was added to the wanted list in February 2022. However, this information remained undisclosed until recently, with authorities providing no statements and no media coverage until this week.

The friction between Russia and Meta escalated after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, where users on both sides expressed raw emotions on the platforms. Stone, during that period, announced temporary adjustments to Meta’s hate speech policy to accommodate political expression, even if it included violent speech against Russian invaders. Notably, calls for violence against Russian civilians remained banned.

In April 2022, Russia formally banned Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg from entering the country. The ban on Facebook and Instagram followed, accusing Meta of tolerating “Russophobia” and engaging in extremist activities. Despite the ban, many Russians continued using the platforms through virtual private networks (VPNs).

Instagram, a widely popular platform in Russia, serves as a crucial space for advertising and sales. In a related move, President Vladimir Putin recently approved changes to a law aimed at limiting media coverage of the upcoming presidential election. To enforce this restriction, the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications, and Mass Media plans to block specific VPNs widely used by Russians to bypass internet restrictions.


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