A Russian court has declared Meta guilty of extremist activity but will still allow access to WhatsApp

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A Russian court has declared Meta guilty of extremist activity but will still allow access to WhatsApp
Meta bans Russian state media from running ads or monetize on its platform.Chesnot/Getty Images
  • A Russian court on Monday declared Meta guilty of extremist activity, according to state media.
  • The decision will ban Meta's products except for its popular chat app, WhatsApp, the report said.
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A Russian court on Monday sided with the country's Prosecutor General's Office, declaring Meta, Facebook's parent company, guilty of extremist activity.

The news was reported first on Monday by the Russian state news agency TASS.

The declaration prohibits Meta from doing business in Russia and will lead to an immediate ban on its family of apps within the country's borders. However, Meta's messaging app WhatsApp, one of the most popular in Russia, will not be banned, according to TASS.

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Representatives for Meta did not immediately return Insider's request for comment Monday.

Tensions between the Kremlin and US social-media giants have reached new heights over the last month following Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine on February 24. Social-media companies, including YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, have taken efforts to limit the spread of Russian disinformation during the conflict, leading to Russian government retaliation.

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A handful of Russian state media outlets have posted stories on Facebook and Twitter containing false claims that Ukrainian military forces were the ones who launched unprovoked assaults on Russian-allied troops, according to Politico.

Russia had already blocked access to Facebook, Insider previously reported, after Facebook officials claimed they refused to stop fact checking posts from Russian state media.

Russia later banned access to Instagram after the company said it would temporarily allow users to call for violence against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian forces. The company later walked that policy back, clarifying that it will not allow content that calls for assassinating heads of state.

Russians have become increasingly isolated from the global internet since their country's invasion of Ukraine, with citizens turning to VPNs and the dark web to access social media platforms and global news outlets.

Meta cited that as a reason for not wanting to ban its apps from being used by Russian citizens. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy himself wrote to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg asking them to block Facebook in Russia, according to Bloomberg, a request Meta ultimately denied.

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Meta did grant Zelenskyy's other request to restrict some Russian state media outlets in Ukraine in light of their false characterization of Ukraine as the aggressor in Russia's war. Facebook has also blocked Russian state-backed news organizations from its advertising platform, as has Google's YouTube.

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