As Russia’s war with Ukraine drags on, the Kremlin is limiting the free flow of information online for Russians on several social media platforms.
Russian authorities have blocked or restricted the use of several social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp and TikTok.
Instagram’s suspension was issued on Friday 11th of March by Russia’s communications regulator, citing Meta’s recent decision to allow messages calling for violence against Russian forces in Ukraine. Russia branded the Instagram’s, Facebook’s and WhatsApp’s parent corporation as an “extremist organization.”
However, regarding WhatsApp’s social media platform, Russia’s measures against the firm appear to be having no effect on WhatsApp.
Authorities have restricted access to Twitter’s social media platform under a federal legislation governing calls for riots, extremism, demonstrations, and the transmission of false information, making it more difficult to access and use the platform.
Users in Russia are unable to post in TikTok’s social media platform as the company considers the consequences of a new Russian law that took effect last week. People who propagate material that contradicts the Kremlin’s official narrative regarding Ukraine, which rejects terminology like “war” and “invasion,” risk up to 15 years in prison.
After originally prohibiting Russian official media in the EU and Ukraine, YouTube’s social media platform said that it will now block it internationally. It also stated that films concerning the Russian invasion that deny, diminish, or belittle “well-documented violent occurrences” will be removed.
Research shows that YouTube is significantly more popular in Russia than Facebook. It discovered that 35% of those polled use YouTube, compared to 31% who use Instagram, 14% who use TikTok, 9% who use Facebook, and 3% who use Twitter.
In conclusion, there are concerns that in Russia, access to large swaths of the internet and social media platforms, even through private networks, may become increasingly difficult. The Kremlin could be attempting to replicate China’s “great firewall” which tightly controls all internet traffic entering and exiting the nation.