Instagram blocked in Russia, hitting crowds of individual entrepreneurs

Instagram blocked in Russia, hitting crowds of individual entrepreneurs
Russia has blocked the hugely popular Instagram app as it cracks down on social media, which will also hurt thousands of small businesses. / EWDN
By East West Digital News in Moscow March 15, 2022

The Russian authorities blocked access to Instagram in the country on March 15 after they accused its parent company Meta of allowing hate speech against Russians, including the military, on its platforms, reports East-West Digital News (EWDN).

Instagram now appears on a list of “restricted” online resources published by the authorities. Earlier this month Roskomnadzor, the internet and telecom regulator, already blocked access to Facebook for alleged discriminations against Russian media.

Twitter, which has also been blocked since late February, has launched a dedicated Tor onion service to allow users to bypass the restrictions.

A vital tool to online influencers and entrepreneurs

Claiming 63mn monthly users in Russia as of early 2022 (nearly 44% of the country’s entire population), Instagram is the second most-used social network in Russia behind Vkontakte but ahead of TikTok, Odnoklassniki, Facebook and Twitter.

Way less politicised that Facebook, Instagram is actively used by a young and middle-aged audience, essentially for entertainment and business purposes.

The platform is the kingdom of online influencers, who have been abruptly cut off from their followers. “Roughly half of all my income came through Instagram advertising. To be honest with you, I am absolutely devastated that I am losing my page. I ran my profile for over 10 years. Most likely I will have to find new sources of income, will have to rediscover myself,” said Karina Istomina, a popular DJ and Instagram influencer with more than 400,000 followers, cited by The Guardian.

The shockwave will hit much large population groups well beyond online celebrities, however, believes Alexander Baderko, a co-founder of East-West Digital News who launched a social media marketing business.

“A huge number of businesses of all sizes used Instagram to support their activity. Most Russian individual entrepreneurs, registered or not as such, had an Instagram account. The blocking of Instagram is a disaster for them,” he said.

This article first appeared in East-West Digital News (EWDN), a bne IntelliNews partner publication.