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Russian authorities open investigation into Meta’s ‘murder’ of Russians

Meta, Facebook’s parent company, has been accused of calling for the murder of Russians. The Russian Investigative Committee has opened an investigation ‘due to illegal calls for the murder of Russian nationals by Meta employees’.

Reuters reported that Facebook owner Meta Platforms had issued guidelines temporarily easing a ban on calls for political violence to allow some Facebook or Instagram posts that encourage killing invading Russian troops. Internal emails sent to content moderators said the guidelines would even permit posts that call for the death of Russian President Vladimir Putin or Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

‘We are issuing a spirit-of-the-policy allowance to allow T1 violent speech that would otherwise be removed under the Hate Speech policy when: (a) targeting Russian soldiers, EXCEPT prisoners of war, or (b) targeting Russians where it’s clear that the context is the Russian invasion of Ukraine (e.g., content mentions the invasion, self-defense, etc.),’ it said in the email.

‘We are doing this because we have observed that in this specific context, ‘Russian soldiers’ is being used as a proxy for the Russian military. The Hate Speech policy continues to prohibit attacks on Russians. We don’t want to believe the Reuters report – it is just too difficult to believe,’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Meta’s spokesperson said: ‘If this is true, then we would have to take the most drastic measures to stop the company’s activities. As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we have temporarily permitted forms of political expression that normally would violate our rules, such as ‘death to the Russian invaders.’ We still won’t permit credible calls for violence against Russian civilians,’ the spokesperson said in a statement.

According to one email, in a recent change to the company’s rules regarding violence and incitement, calls for the leaders’ deaths will be allowed if they contain other targets or have two indicators of credibility, such as the location or method. On Twitter, the Russian Embassy in the United States called on Washington to stop the ‘extremist activities’ of Meta. ‘Users of Facebook & Instagram do not submit to the owners of these platforms the right to determine the criteria of truth and pit nations against each other,’ the embassy said.

Federal prosecutors have asked a Russian court to declare Facebook parent company Meta Platforms to be an ‘extremist organization,’ Interfax reported on Friday. Meta’s Instagram social network was also restricted by the state prosecutor’s request to Roskomnadzor, Russia’s communications watchdog. Roskomnadzor previously said it cut off access to Twitter and Facebook based on a decision by the prosecutor general’s office.

Roskomnadzor cited Facebook’s alleged ‘discrimination’ of state media and state information sources as the reason for its blocking. According to the agency, the restrictions introduced by Facebook owner Meta on the Russian news channel RT and other state-controlled media are illegal under Russian law.


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