Report: Instagram Caves to Russian Censorship Pressure

TOPSHOT - A protester with tape covering her mouth takes part in the March for Free Internet in central Moscow on July 23, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images

Image-sharing social media platform Instagram has caved to pressure from the Russian government to restrict access to posts relating to opposition party leader Alexei Navalny.

The BBC reports that Instagram has caved to pressure from the Russian government’s Internet censor to restrict Russian users from accessing posts relating to Alexei Navalny, the leader of the political party opposing the current Russian government. Navalny has been banned from standing against President Putin in next month’s elections due to allegations of corruption, which Navalny insists are politically motivated. Navalny took to Twitter to express his anger over Instagram’s decision stating, “shame on you, instagram!”

In comparison, Google has refused to comply with Russian requests to remove content relating to Navalny from YouTube. A video was posted to YouTube by Navalny’s Anti-corruption Foundation last week which appeared to show billionaire Oleg Deripaska meeting with the deputy prime minister of Russia Sergei Prikhodko on a yacht. The video has amassed 25 million views and Russia has ordered that it and any related clips be removed from YouTube by Wednesday, but Google has yet to comply with the demands.

Navalny has accused the Facebook-owned app of bowing to an “illegal censorship request” from the Russian government. According to the BBC, a female model involved in the situation voluntarily removed her own posts from the platform, but Facebook removed two further posts, neither of which were from Navalny’s account.

A Facebook spokesperson explained the company’s reason for complying with the post removal requests, saying, “When governments believe that something on the internet violates their laws, they may contact companies and ask us to restrict access to that content. We review such requests carefully in light of local laws and where appropriate, we make it unavailable in the relevant country or territory… We are transparent about any content restrictions we make for government requests with local law in our Transparency Report.” According to Facebook’s transparency report from June 2017, the company restricted 156 pieces of content over the course of six months in Russia.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan_ or email him at lnolan@breitbart.com

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