Russia follows through on its threat to ban Instagram

Instagram logo on a Galaxy S10
Instagram logo on a Galaxy S10 (Image credit: Joe Maring / iMore)

What you need to know

  • Russia has banned and blocked Instagram from being used in its country.
  • Instagram says 80 million users are now without access to its service.
  • Russian influencers spent the weekend telling people to download VPN software to avoid the ban.

Just as it said it would last week, Russia has now blocked access to Instagram for the 80 million people who used it in the country.

The move, which was threatened last week, was confirmed by internet monitoring service GlobalCheck and The Verge. The ban comes after Meta said it would allow Facebook and Instagram users to call for violence against Russian invaders, something that would normally be against its rules. The temporary change in policy only applies to specific instances, according to a Reuters report.

Meta confirmed to The Verge that a change had been made.

As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine we have temporarily made allowances for forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules like violent speech such as 'death to the Russian invaders.' We still won't allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians.

Instagram did have around 80 million users inside Russia, with the company saying that around 80% of those followed accounts that originated from beyond its borders. Russian Instagram influencers spent the weekend telling their fans that they should download a VPN in an attempt to try to bypass the impending Russian block, something that has been a growing trend since the invasion of Ukraine began.

Instagram has long been one of the best iPhone apps for sharing photos and short videos, making it one of the most obvious targets for a Russian regime that wants to tightly control the narrative amid its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.