LONDON, March 11 – Russia opened a criminal case against Facebook’s parent Meta Platforms (FB.O) on Friday and moved to designate it as an “extremist organisation” after the social network changed its hate speech rules to allow users to call for violence against Russians in the context of the war with Ukraine.
“A criminal case has been initiated … in connection with illegal calls for murder and violence against citizens of the Russian Federation by employees of the American company Meta, which owns the social networks Facebook and Instagram,” Russia’s Investigative Committee said.
The committee reports directly to President Vladimir Putin. It was not immediately clear what the consequences of the criminal case might be.
No comment was immediately available from Meta in response to a Reuters request.
Two weeks into Russia’s war in Ukraine, a Meta spokesperson said on Thursday the company had temporarily eased its rules for political speech, allowing posts such as “death to the Russian invaders,” although it would not allow calls for violence against Russian civilians.
Meta said the temporary change aimed to allow for forms of political expression that would normally violate its rules. Its oversight board said on Friday that it was closely following the war in Ukraine, and how Meta is responding.