Instagram users in Russia have been notified that the service will cease as of midnight on Sunday after its owner Meta Platforms said last week it would allow social media users in Ukraine to post messages such as “Death to the Russian invaders”.
An email message from the state communications regulator told users to move their photos and videos from Instagram before it was shut down, and encouraged them to switch to Russia’s own “competitive internet platforms”.
Meta, which also owns Facebook (FB), said Friday that the temporary change in its hate speech policy applied only to Ukraine, in the wake of Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion.
The company said it would be wrong to prevent Ukrainians from “expressing their resistance and fury at the invading military forces”.
The decision was greeted with outrage in Russia, where authorities have opened a criminal investigation against Meta and prosecutors on Friday asked a court to designate the US tech giant as an “extremist organisation”.
The head of Instagram has said the block will affect 80 million users. Russia has already banned Facebook in the country in response to what it said were restrictions of access to Russian media on the platform.
The message to Instagram users from the state media regulator, Roskomnadzor, described the decision to allow calls for violence against Russians as a breach of international law.
“We need to ensure the psychological health of citizens, especially children and adolescents, to protect them from harassment and insults online,” it said, explaining the decision to close down the platform.