Fox Business reports:
The Tverskoy District Court of Moscow sided with a lawsuit brought by the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation earlier this month, ruling that Facebook and Instagram should still be banned “on the grounds of realizing extremist activity,” Russian state-run media company TASS reported.
Judge Olga Solopova said the American owned Meta would be prevented from opening branches or conducting further business in Russia. Russian regulators have already blocked access to Facebook and Instagram, but Monday’s ruling clarified that Russian civilians who find ways around government restrictions and are found to be still using the platforms will not be prosecuted.
Russians could be prosecuted for trading large shares in Meta or for purchasing advertisements on Facebook and Instagram, human rights lawyer Pavel Chiko warned in a message on Telegram, according to Reuters. He also said public displays of Meta symbols on websites, shop entrances and business cards could result in administrative charges and up to 15 days in jail under Russian law.
The court decision did not apply to the messaging service WhatsApp because of “its lack of functionality for the public dissemination of information,” the ruling said. Separately, the British Ministry of Defense banned its soldiers from using WhatsApp amid concerns Russia could be hacking the platform to obtain operationally sensitive information, the Daily Mail reported Sunday.
In the United States, Meta’s platforms have censored multiple conservatives, including 45th President Donald Trump and others who have supposedly gone against their community standards.
Joe Biden has been increasingly soft on Facebook after he said the platform was “killing people,” telling reporters in July 2021, “Facebook isn’t killing people, these 12 people are out there giving misinformation.” He added, “Anyone listening to it is getting hurt by it. It is killing people. It’s bad information. My hope is that Facebook, instead of taking it personally that somehow I’m saying Facebook is killing people, that they would do something about the misinformation, the outrageous misinformation about the vaccine. That’s what I meant.”