Russian Court Ruling Bans Meta Apps for Extremist Content, WhatsApp Stays Online

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has had a really widespread impact on several different areas of the world, and tech is no different. Some tech companies have divested from Russia or have at the very least paused their operations in that region, and it seems that the Russian government and court system is taking the offensive as well by trying to ban various apps because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up allowing them to spread their propaganda somewhat more easily.

About a month ago, Russia banned Meta apps namely Facebook and Instagram, and with all of that having been said and now out of the way it is important to note that a Russian judge has recently ruled that the ban is legal because of the supposed extremist activity that these apps are encouraging and facilitating. It’s clear that this is an attempt at censorship, no different from what numerous other autocratic governments around the world have taken part in, but a strange aspect of this ban is that WhatsApp doesn’t seem to be a part of it.

This ban came as a result of Facebook suspending its rule regarding banning accounts that are trying to call for violence, ostensibly in order to allow Ukrainians to get the message out without having their accounts banned. The Russian state clearly took umbrage with this, and have banned these apps in an attempt to reduce the kind of impact they might have on the Russian people in general.

A survey conducted by Deloitte in 2021 revealed that around 80% of Russians who are older than fourteen years of age tend to use WhatsApp on a regular basis. That might be why the Russian government has been hesitant to ban it. Such a ubiquitous messaging app getting banned can have catastrophic consequences, and the Russian state is clearly not going to want to do anything of the sort although it will be interesting to see what happens if matters are taken out of their hands by Meta deciding to pull out entirely.

Read next: Australian Government takes new steps to combat misinformation on social media platforms
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