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Russia bans Instagram, taking 80 million users offline

Russia has banned Instagram, taking an estimated 80 million users offline.

The company announced the decision last week, but gave users a grace period, with the advice. that they switch to other platforms.

Now users in Russia are unable to access the app at all. Facebook had already been banned.

The country took the decision after parent company Meta said that it in Ukraine to post messages such as “Death to the Russian invaders”.

An email message from the state communications regulator told people to move their photos and videos from Instagram before it was shut down, and encouraged them to switch to Russia’s own “competitive internet platforms”.

Meta, which also owns Facebook, said on Friday that the temporary change in its hate speech policy applied only to Ukraine, in the wake of Russia’s invasion.

The company said it would be wrong to prevent Ukrainians from “expressing their resistance and fury at the invading military forces”.

The decision was greeted with outrage in Russia, where authorities have opened a criminal investigation against Meta and prosecutors on Friday asked a court to designate the U.S. tech giant as an “extremist organisation”.

The head of Instagram has said the block will affect 80 million users. Russia has already banned Facebook in the country in response to what it said were restrictions of access to Russian media on the platform.

The message to Instagram users from the regulator Roskomnadzor described the decision to allow calls for violence against Russians as a breach of international law.

“We need to ensure the psychological health of citizens, especially children and adolescents, to protect them from harassment and insults online,” it said, explaining the decision to close down the platform.