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While many international companies decided to temporarily close their offices or services in Russia, Meta was one of the few who decided to keep Facebook and Instagram open.

Although the social media platforms were kept open from Meta’s side, they were only available through virtual private networks (VPNs) in the country.

Now, that is also about to end. That’s because a Moscow court has ruled that Facebook and Instagram will be banned and labeled as extremist organisations. The judge agreed with the prosecutor’s request to ban the social media platforms.

The prosecutor argued that Meta’s policies were directed against Russia and its army.

Only last week Google’s parent company, Alphabet was warned by Russia’s internet censor to stop using YouTube to spread what it says are threats against the country’s citizens in what could be a prelude to criminalization.

Since Russia’s attack on its neighbour Ukaine, the new extremism law has meant that several independent media outlets have been labeled as extremists and warnings of jail time have been given.

Under the extremism law, jail time for fake news could be up to 15 years.

News24 reports that a lawyer for Meta said the Russian court didn’t have the authority to rule in the case because Meta is a foreign-registered company without a domestic presence.

Tass, Russia’s state-owned news agency reported that Russia is not seeking to block Meta’s messenger WhatsApp and that people with accounts on Meta’s social media also won’t be targeted.

Image credit: Daily Sabah

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