Instagram blackout for 80m Russians from midnight tonight in Putin media blitz

Russia is set to block Instagram from midnight tonight after the platform said it will allow Ukrainians to post death threats to Vladimir Putin.

The social site said it wanted to allow Ukrainians to “express their resistance and fury at the invading military forces”.

But top Russian officials started a criminal investigation in protest at the “calls for violence” against Russian soldiers.

The move means a whopping 80 million ordinary Russians will be cut off from using the site.

It is yet another blow to Putin’s country following huge companies such as McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Heineken stopping their services in protest at the brutal invasion of Ukraine.

Nick Clegg, the president of Meta’s public affairs, said in a statement: “Our policies are focused on protecting people's right to free speech as an expression of self-defense in reaction to a military invasion of their country.

“If we applied our standard content policies without any adjustments, we would now be removing content from ordinary Ukrainians expressing their resistance and fury at the invading military forces, which would be rightly viewed as unacceptable.”

Officials from Meta – the company in charge of Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp – said in leaked emails that death threats to both Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko would be allowed.

But posts aimed at Russian citizens or that show credibility in the threat would still be banned under the rules.

The Kremlin is now trying to classify Meta as an extremist organisation and alleges it was used to incite “mass riots accompanied by violence.”

Facebook has already been banned by Russia, but the company says Whatsapp will be allowed to stay since it is a means of communication and not posting information.

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It comes after an Instagram influencer from Russia begged Brits not to think of all Russians as warmongers.

Arch Hades, who has over a million followers, said: “We have to remind ourselves that this is not what most Russians want. This is Putin’s war.

“I really want to ask the British people – please don’t tar all Russian-born people with the same brush as Putin and his lackeys.”

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