Russia’s Federal Service for Financial Monitoring, Rosfinmonitoring, Tuesday added US tech giant Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, to its list of “terrorist and extremist” organizations, Russian news agencies reported. The impact of Rosfinmonitoring’s designation reportedly means that Russian citizens and companies who buy ads from Facebook or Instagram could potentially face up to 10 years in prison for “sponsoring extremism.”
Russia banned Meta’s Facebook and Instagram platforms in March after authorities accused Meta of being “extremist” and tolerating “Russophobia.” Meta appealed the decision, though this appeal was rejected in June by a Moscow Court. The ban does not apply to Meta’s messaging platform Whatsapp.
Since March, Russia has had restricted access to Facebook and Instagram, though many Russians continue to access the platforms through virtual private networks (VPNs). A report from Atlas VPN reported that after the ban demand for VPNs skyrocketed by 10,000 percent with VPN installs in Russia reaching an all-time high.
Human rights lawyer Pavel Chikov reported on Wednesday that Russian prosecutors have already begun handing out warning notices to citizens regarding administrative or criminal liability for the use of Facebook and Instagram.