Feb 16, 2018

Instagram yields to Russian censorship demands

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Instagram has given in to Russian internet censors by blocking access to posts that reference allegations against leaders of the Russian Federation by prominent opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the BBC reports.

Why it matters: Instagram's decision contrasts that of video rival YouTube, which Russian agency officials say has not yet complied with its demand to remove Navalny's videos. But it's important to consider that the content Instagram was asked to take down was not the exact same as YouTube’s. Theirs was from the Navalny's escort, while YouTube’s is actual content from Nalvany himself.

According to an Instagram spokesperson:

“When governments believe that something on the Internet violates their laws, they may contact companies and ask us to restrict access to that content. We review such requests carefully in light of local laws and where appropriate, we make it unavailable in the relevant country or territory.”

  • Russia threatened to block Facebook, Instagram's parent company, last year unless it agreed to comply with a law that requires websites to store the personal data of Russian citizens on Russian servers.
  • Social media censorship is a tactic used globally by authoritarian figures to quell opposition voices. China has currently blocked many social media services, like Instagram, Facebook, Google and Twitter, and earlier this year it said it would block the Facebook-owned messenger service, WhatsApp.
  • Many credit access to social media tools, like YouTube and Facebook, for the rise of the Arab Spring in 2011 and 2012.

Go deeper

John Kelly defends James Mattis against Trump attacks

John Kelly in the White House in July 2017. Photo: Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Former White House chief of staff John Kelly defended James Mattis on Thursday after President Trump attacked the former defense secretary as "the world's most overrated general" and claimed on Twitter that he was fired.

What he's saying: “The president did not fire him. He did not ask for his resignation,” Kelly told the Washington Post in an interview. “The president has clearly forgotten how it actually happened or is confused."

Barr claims "no correlation" between removing protesters and Trump's church photo op

Attorney General Bill Barr said at a press conference Thursday that there was "no correlation" between his decision to order police to forcibly remove protesters from Lafayette Park and President Trump's subsequent visit to St. John's Episcopal Church earlier this week.

Driving the news: Barr was asked to respond to comments from Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who said Tuesday that he "did not know a photo op was happening" and that he does everything he can to "try and stay out of situations that may appear political."

Updates: Cities move to end curfews for George Floyd protests

Text reading "Demilitarize the police" is projected on an army vehicle during a protest over the death of George Floyd in Washington, D.C.. early on Thursday. Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Several cities are ending curfews after the protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people led to fewer arrests and less violence Wednesday night.

The latest: Los Angeles and Washington D.C. are the latest to end nightly curfews. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan tweeted Wednesday night that "peaceful protests can continue without a curfew, while San Francisco Mayor London Breed tweeted that the city's curfew would end at 5 a.m. Thursday.