Moscow intensifies assault on social media, names Meta's Stone as wanted

Written by Jeppe W

Nov.27 - 2023 11:59 AM CET

Names Meta's Stone as wanted

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In a significant escalation of its clampdown on social media, Russia has placed Andy Stone, a spokesperson for Meta Platforms, on its wanted list.

The move comes amidst growing tensions between Moscow and the U.S.-based social media giant, owner of Facebook, which Russia has classified as "extremist."

Russia's interior ministry added Stone to its list of wanted individuals, though the charges against him remain unspecified.

This development is part of Russia's broader campaign against media and social media freedom, which has intensified since the beginning of its military operations in Ukraine.

In October 2022, Meta was declared a "terrorist and extremist" organization by Russian authorities, a designation that has opened the door to potential criminal investigations and penalties for Russian users of Meta's services.

Since the outset of the conflict in Ukraine, popular social media platforms Facebook and Instagram have been blocked in Russia, with access now only possible through virtual private networks (VPNs).

Twitter and various independent Russian media outlets critical of the Kremlin have faced similar bans.

Prior to these prohibitions, millions of Russians actively used Meta's applications, particularly Instagram, which continues to hold significant appeal among the younger demographic in the country.

In a related move, Russia previously barred Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg from entering the country in April 2022.

This latest action against Andy Stone further signifies the deepening rift between Russia and major social media platforms, reflecting the Kremlin's stringent approach to controlling information and public discourse amid its ongoing conflict with Ukraine.