The extremist organization Meta Platforms Inc. was recognized by Moscow’s Tverskoy Court. Meta Corporation will be designated as a prohibited corporation in Russia after the Ministry of Justice of Russia adds the organization to the relevant list. At the same time, it will be removed from the list of foreign businesses operating on Russia’s Internet, and Meta’s social networks Instagram and Facebook will be removed from the social network registration. Keep in mind that the court’s verdict does not apply to WhatsApp. But, not only because of Western sanctions, he has issues with the paid version (more on that in a different post a bit later).
The Prosecutor General’s Office’s lawsuit against Meta, according to Roskomnadzor, has no bearing on businesses that use extremist profiles on Facebook and Instagram to acquire clients and advertise their activity. That is, if you have technical access to forbidden social networks, you may use them as long as you do not break Russian Federation propaganda and defamation laws.
The restriction primarily affects the media, which will soon be compelled to include a disclaimer that the firm and its social media platforms are prohibited on Russian Federation territory.
“When disseminating information, Russian media are required to designate such an organisation and its social networks in their editorial materials, according to Art. 4 of the Russian Federation’s “On the Mass Media” Law. It must be stated on the label that its activities in Russia are forbidden. After the Russian Ministry of Justice adds an extremist organisation to the corresponding list, the media is held responsible for the lack of such marking.
The Russian media is not permitted to display the Meta Platforms Inc. logo. “As well as its social media platforms Facebook and Instagram,” Roskomnadzor stated.
Something improved, but not entirely. It’s understandable – social media platforms have never been labeled as radical before, and it’s impossible to predict how this will play out. However, you must begin to comprehend. As a result, we gathered a few dozen questions on specific scenarios from our clients and partners and sent them to lawyers Artem Gusarov and Sergey Smirnov.
Artem Gusarov, legal adviser at Elkod
1. What are the risks for users of services banned in the Russian Federation Meta?
- coordinating the activities of an extremist group – 6-10 years in jail (part 1 of the Criminal Code 282.2);
- involvement in extremist organization’s operations (for example, persuasion, bribery, threats, persuasion, etc.) – 4 to 8 years (part 1.1 of the Criminal Code 282.2);
- involvement in the activities of an extremist organization – 2 to 6 years (part 2 of the Criminal Code 282.2);
- Financing extremist action carries a sentence of 3 to 8 years in prison (282.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation).
- dissemination of unlabeled extremist materials in the media – activity suspension (Article 11 of the Federal Law “On Countering Extremist Activity”), a fine of 40,000 rubles to 50,000 rubles, or more (part 2 of article 13.15 of the Code of Administrative Offenses).
- distribution of extremist materials, their manufacture, and storage – a fine of up to 3,000 rubles for civilians, or administrative detention for up to 15 days for legal entities, or a suspension of activities for up to 90 days for legal entities (CAO Art. 20.29). The Ministry of Justice’s website contains a list of extremist literature.
2. Do I need to delete my account? Does the law apply to already posted publications?
Participation in an extremist organization can be defined as maintaining accounts and submitting postings with little effort. This means intentional actions related to the continuation or resumption of the activities of this organization, according to paragraph 20 of the Decree of the Plenum of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation dated 06/28/2011 N 11 (as amended on 10/28/2021) “On judicial practice in criminal cases on crimes of an extremist orientation” ( conducting conversations in order to promote the activities of a banned organization, direct participation in ongoing events, etc.).
That is, computer and phone applications can be associated with extremist materials, and their use, including a link to them, can imply participation in extremist actions.
If you made a post before Meta was branded an extremist organization but did not take it down after the court judgment, you are still committing a crime. Non-removal of publications is treated by courts as a continuous violation, and courts will punish publications that are older than the statute of limitations.
We recommend that you be more cautious about the information you share on social media and that your posts do not include the following information:
- Statements about the Russian Federation’s operations in Ukraine that have sparked controversy;
- remarks directly relevant to Meta’s actions being continued or resumed;
- emblems of illegal organizations
- materials that are radical;
- some others (anti-constitutional appeals).
3. Is it legal to pay for targeted advertising?
When it comes to replenishing the advertising budget, there may be issues. From the outside, this appears to be a transfer of funds to an extremist organization, which is comparable to funding extremist actions (Article 282.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation).
The term “funding” is used in a very broad sense. According to the Russian Federation’s Armed Forces, it should be recognized not only as a provider of financial services but also as a provider or collector of funds (in cash or non-monetary form), as well as material resources (for example, uniforms, equipment, communications equipment).
If you continue to pay for and request targeted advertising on Facebook and Instagram, which are illegal in the Russian Federation, you run the danger of being held liable under Art. 282.3 of the Criminal Code, in our opinion.
4. Will it be legal to place links to Instagram and Facebook pages banned in the Russian Federation on other pages on the Internet?
Fines may be imposed if Facebook and Instagram links or logos are shown. Currently, a consistent judicial practise of issuing fines for such placements exists. Article 20.29 of the Russian Federation’s Code of Administrative Offenses could lead to liability.
A hyperlink to a user’s page cannot currently be considered illegal or extremist content. The Ministry of Justice’s list, on the other hand, might contain individual pages or even the entire Facebook and Instagram sites. Then you won’t be able to link to them.
Use social media to promote your company.
Sergey Smirnov, lawyer
Do you have any other inquiries? Sergey Smirnov has provided you with succinct and comprehensive responses to your questions. Lawyers have some disagreements, which is to be expected given that no one knows how the current scenario would be exploited.
5. If both users and companies can post, then what does the status of an extremist organization mean in this case?
The fact that the Meta firm has been labeled as radical means that its activities are prohibited on Russian Federation soil. Instagram and Facebook are also prohibited because they are members of the Meta group. The only exception is WhatsApp Messenger, which is specifically mentioned in the court ruling. As a result, from a legal standpoint, any interaction between users and Instagram and Facebook is prohibited.
6. Will the company have problems if it continues to use Facebook and Instagram?
If the corporation continues to utilize Instagram and Facebook, it will be considered to interact with extremist organizations, which is against the law once again. Persecution is the result.
7. And if the company publishes something that does not violate the laws of the Russian Federation?
It makes no difference what is published in the account in this scenario. The major point is that social media sites are labelled as radical.
8. My company has a large following on Facebook and Instagram. Can I continue to sell there, hold giveaways, and marathons?
Interaction with a terrorist organization will be evaluated. Furthermore, if a user donates money to an extremist organization, such as through Instagram or Facebook advertising, this will be deemed financial support.
9. Do I need to flag extremism in old company materials and videos that mention Facebook and Instagram?
The law does not apply to previous years. As a result, no. From March 21, 2022, only. That is, if new information regarding Instagram and Facebook is provided by other social networks (websites, portals, or media), it must be noted that these networks are considered extremists in the Russian Federation.
10. Is it possible to post a QR code on an Instagram account at the entrance to an institution or company?
No, because it would be deemed disseminating information about extremist organizations, it is now impossible to do so. This is also true for the Instagram and Facebook links in the contacts section of the site.
11. Whatsapp was not affected, but if my business conducts commercial activities there (the same mailings), then what should I do?
WhatsApp is not restricted in any way.
12. When mentioning WhatsApp, is it necessary to write that “belongs to Meta, recognized …”?
No, it is not required because the court specifically said that WhatsApp messenger is an exception.
13. Do I need to delete the company’s Facebook and Instagram accounts? Or is it enough not to write there anymore?
You cannot delete them if you do not utilize them.
14. What about Meta mentions (visual ones too)?
It’s also important to mention that it’s been designated as an extreme group.
15. If our company posted on other social networks about its promotions on Facebook and Instagram, should the posts be deleted or edited? Will we get something for it if we leave them unchanged?
The publications do not need to be erased if they were published before the court’s verdict.
16. You can’t tag old materials on Vkontakte. Should I delete all posts?
There’s no reason to get rid of it.
17. If we used to sell on Instagram, is it okay?
There can be no claims in this situation because the legislation does not apply retroactively.
18. Is it possible to maintain a foreign account from Russia (from a legal point of view)?
It’s impossible; this will be construed as involvement with a terrorist group.
19. Is it possible to publish new materials mentioning these social networks? Only with the obligatory mention that they are recognized as extremists?
Yes, with a requirement to mention it.
20. I teach courses on Facebook and Instagram. Stop course?
Yes, if you don’t, you’ll be prosecuted.
21. Do we now need to remove the mention of Facebook and Instagram from the listing of our company on Google?
Yes, if third parties have unrestricted access.
22. Can I repost/screenshot from Facebook and Instagram? As a user and as a company representative…
No, reposts and screenshots suggest the use of prohibited social media sites. When they (social networks) are referenced, a signature is required to identify them as extremists.
23. Is it possible to provide links to some publications on Facebook and Instagram in the company’s accounts in other networks or on the website? Or can I leave the old links (which were before the court decision)?
New links are not permitted, however previous posts are permitted.
24. If we have tips for promoting in these social networks, should they be removed from the site? And from Vkontakte?
It is not required to remove references if they were given before the court decision went into effect. You are unable to add new ones.
25. Have there been cases when an extremist organization in the Russian Federation was later recognized as non-extremist?
I’m not aware of any such instances.
26. If the name of my company contains, for example, the letter combination “insta”, is it necessary now to rename the company?
No. There is no explicit reference to the prohibited social network in this play on words.