TECH: Russia bans Instagram, blocking access to 80 million users.

Rus­si­a’s promised ban on Insta­gram went into effect today, with the social media plat­form inac­ces­si­ble to the vast major­i­ty of the coun­try’s pop­u­la­tion, accord­ing to inter­net mon­i­tor­ing ser­vice GlobalCheck.

The Russ­ian state announced plans to ban Insta­gram last week, in response to par­ent com­pa­ny Meta’s deci­sion to allow Face­book and Insta­gram users in cer­tain coun­tries to call for vio­lence against Russ­ian sol­diers in fol­low­ing the coun­try’s inva­sion of Ukraine. Rus­sia has reg­u­lar­ly restrict­ed access to online plat­forms in an effort to con­trol the flow of war infor­ma­tion and has pre­vi­ous­ly banned Face­book and Twitter.

This week, Insta­gram chief Adam Mosseri said in a tweet that “this move will cut 80 mil­lion peo­ple in Rus­sia off from each oth­er, and from the rest of the world, because around 80% of peo­ple in Rus­sia fol­low an account. Insta­gram out­side of their coun­try. This is wrong.”

Insta­gram will be blocked from Mon­day in Rus­sia. A deci­sion that will cut off 80 mil­lion peo­ple in Rus­sia from each oth­er and the rest of the world, as 80% of Rus­sians fol­low an Insta­gram account out­side their country.

Over the week­end, Russ­ian Insta­gram influ­encers post­ed farewell mes­sages to their fol­low­ers, encour­ag­ing them to fol­low them on oth­er plat­forms or down­load VPN soft­ware to cir­cum­vent the state ban.

The Wash­ing­ton Post reports that a Russ­ian fash­ion influ­encer, Kari­na Nigay, lament­ed the ban in a live video. “It’s my job,” Nigay said. “Imag­ine that you have just been com­plete­ly laid off from work and you do not receive any income, but at the same time you have expens­es for your fam­i­ly, for your team if you have sub­or­di­nates, and then all of a sud­den you don’t you have noth­ing more to pay your team.

Nigay lat­er sug­gest­ed that the ban might actu­al­ly prove ben­e­fi­cial for Russ­ian fash­ion brands. She also respond­ed to com­menters on her video who com­pared her com­plaints unfa­vor­ably to the plight of Ukraini­ans by say­ing, “Lis­ten, to those who write all kinds of dirt, all this pro­pa­gan­da stuff, I absolute­ly don’t give a damn.”

Insta­gram has also pro­vid­ed a plat­form for Rus­sians to speak out against the war, includ­ing wealthy oli­garchs and their fam­i­lies. Sofia Abramovich, daugh­ter of bil­lion­aire Roman Abramovich, shared an anti-Putin post on Insta­gram before delet­ing it, while wealthy Russ­ian banker Oleg Tin­kov said war was “unthink­able and unacceptable”.

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