The Instagram application for social networks, owned by the American company “Meta”, was inaccessible this Monday in Russia.
The blocking comes against the background of accusations by Russian authorities that the app publishes calls for violence against Russians in the context of the war in Ukraine.
AFP journalists reported that it was not possible to update the application on Monday morning and that the site could not be accessed without a VPN.
Instagram is now on the list of banned websites published by communications regulator Roskomnadzor, along with Facebook, Twitter and many outlets critical of the Russian authority.
The Russian Communications Regulatory Authority said this comes after the company that owns it, “Meta Platforms”, announced that it would allow users of social media platforms in Ukraine to post messages such as “Death to Russian invaders”.
An email from the state agency Roskomnadzor urged residents to take their photos and videos off Instagram, before it closed, and encouraged them to switch to Russia’s “competitive internet platforms”.
Meta, which also owns the Facebook app, said on Friday that the temporary change in hate speech policy applies only to Ukraine, following the Russian attack that began on February 24.
The company said it would be wrong to prevent Ukrainians from “expressing their resistance and anger against the invading military forces.”
The decision was met with outrage in Russia, where authorities have opened a criminal investigation against Meta, with prosecutors asking the court on Friday to classify the US tech giant as an “extremist organization.”
The head of Instagram said the ban would affect 80 million users.