Russia Bans Instagram Access for 80 Million Users

The ban is part of a larger crackdown on social media platforms by Russia

A person holding a phone displaying the Instagram icon.
The ban comes a week after Russia blocked access to Facebook in the country.

At midnight, Russia officially cut off access to Instagram, banning the platform for much of the country’s population. The ban comes just days after Moscow vowed to restrict access to the photo-sharing app in retaliation for Facebook parent company Meta’s decision to allow calls for violence against Russian soldiers on its platforms. 

On Friday, Instagram users in Russia were given a 48-hour grace period by Russia’s communications regulator Roskomnadzorto and told to transfer their photos and videos from Instagram before the ban went into effect at midnight Sunday, when they would no longer be able to access their accounts.

“We need to ensure the psychological health of citizens, especially children and adolescents, to protect them from harassment and insults online,” Roskomnadzor said, explaining why the platform was being shut down. 

Regarding the ban, Instagram head Adam Mosseri wrote in a tweet on Friday, “This decision will cut 80 million in Russia off from one another, and from the rest of the world as ~80% of people in Russia follow an Instagram account outside their country. This is wrong.”

The recent Instagram ban is part of a larger crackdown on online platforms by Russia in an attempt to control information about the country’s invasion of Ukraine, and restrict those voicing opposition to the war on social media. Earlier this month, Russian authorities blocked access to Facebook in the country, citing cases of discrimination against Russian state media outlets since 2020, on top of the more recent restrictions Facebook has placed on Russian media, according to The Verge.

As The Washington Post reports, the Instagram ban is just the latest instance of Russian citizens becoming increasingly isolated from the rest of the globe. There’s a laundry list of major international companies pulling out of Russia and prohibiting the sale of its products following its invasion of Ukraine. Though, as WaPo notes, not having the ability to connect with friends, family and other users from around the world, which social media platforms enable us to do, is significantly more isolating than not being able to order a McDouble.

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