Meta Corporation is a designated extremist organization in Russia, and its activities are forbidden. It will also be removed from the country’s list of foreign organizations operating on the Internet, as well as the social networks Instagram and Facebook, which are owned by Meta. The prohibition did not affect WhatsApp Messenger, although there are certain issues with its commercial version, which we will explore in a later piece.
Individuals (i.e., regular users) are not affected by the Prosecutor General’s Office’s suit, according to Roskomnadzor, and their use of social media is not threatened. Assuming, of course, that they do not break any Russian Federation laws in the process (promote the forbidden, for example, or discredit the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation).
That is, private persons are allowed to utilize social media sites that are prohibited? Because this is the first time in history that social networks have been labeled as radicals, don’t expect easy and straightforward responses. But here’s what the lawyers had to say in response to the TexTerra editors’ questions. Artem Gusarov and Sergey Smirnov, take note.
Artem Gusarov, legal adviser at Elkod
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);
- participation 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, manufacture, and storage of extremist materials – 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). On the Ministry of Justice’s website, a list of extremist literature can be obtained.
Do I need to delete my account? Does the law apply to already posted publications?
Participating in an extremist organization can be defined as maintaining accounts and posting messages with little effort. This means intentional actions related to the continuation or resumption of the activities of this organization, as defined in 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 regarding the Russian Federation’s operations in Ukraine that have sparked controversy;
- statements that are directly relevant to Meta’s actions being continued or resumed;
- banned organizations’ symbols;
- materials with an extreme viewpoint;
- in addition (anti-constitutional appeals).
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.
Sergey Smirnov, lawyer
Now let’s deal with specific issues by arranging for Sergey to participate in a blitz survey.
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.
Will a person be an extremist if he continues to use Facebook and Instagram?
If the person continues to use Instagram and Facebook, it will be considered interaction with extremist organizations, which is illegal. As a result, criminal charges are being pursued.
And if I publish something that does not violate the laws of the Russian Federation?
It makes no difference what the user publishes in this scenario. The major point is that social media sites are labeled as radical.
Do I need to delete my Facebook and Instagram accounts? Or is it enough just not to write there anymore?
You won’t be able to delete them unless you use them.
If I wrote on other social networks about Meta, Facebook and Instagram, do the posts need to be deleted or edited? Will I get something for it if I leave them unchanged?
The publications do not need to be removed if they were published prior to the court’s judgment.
In Vkontakte, you can’t put tags on old materials. Should I delete all posts?
There’s no reason to get rid of it.
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.
Can I repost/screenshot from Facebook and Instagram as a user?
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.
Can I link to some posts on Facebook and Instagram? Or can I leave the old links (which were before the court decision)?
New links are not permitted, however previous posts are permitted.
Were there cases when an extremist organization in the Russian Federation was later recognized as non-extremist?
I’m not aware of any such instances.
The most comprehensive guide to creating a VKontakte group on the internet.