A Moscow court on Monday labelled Facebook’s owner, Meta Platforms Inc., “an extremist organisation”. The decision would not apply to the WhatsApp messenger service but focuses solely on the company’s already banned Facebook and Instagram social networks.
Moscow’s Tverskoi District Court upheld a lawsuit filed by Russian state prosecutors on banning the activities of Meta on Russian territory, the court’s press service said in a statement.
“The decision does not apply to the activities of Meta’s messenger WhatsApp, due to its lack of functionality for the public dissemination of information,” the court said.
The U.S. company’s lawyer, Victoria Shagina, had said in the court earlier that Meta was not carrying out extremist activities and stood against Russophobia.
Meta’s flagship platforms, Facebook and Instagram, are already banned in Russia. On March 4 the national media and internet regulator Roskomnadzor announced that “Facebook was discriminating against Russian media”.
Russia banned Facebook for restricting access to Russian media while Instagram was blocked after Meta said it would allow social media users in Ukraine to post messages urging violence against Russian President Vladimir Putin and troops Moscow sent.
Earlier Facebook has restricted the several Russian news broadcast companies including news agency RIA Novosti, the TV station Zwiezda and internet news sites Lenta.ru and Gazeta.ru.
The implications labelling Meta an “extremist organisation”, a designation once reserved for groups such as the Taliban and Islamic State but later given to the Jehovah’s Witnesses and jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, remain unclear.