Russia has added the spokesman for big tech giant, Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, to its criminal wanted list, according to the country’s interior ministry.
Meta spokesperson Andy Stone was added to the list on Sunday, according to Tass and independent news outlet Mediazona.
The Daily Fetched reported in October 2022 that Meta was placed on Russia’s “terrorist and extremist” organizations list.
In March this year, a Russian court banned Facebook and Instagram after finding Meta Platforms Inc (FB.O) “extremist.”
Russia already banned Facebook for restricting access to Russian media.
At the same time, Instagram was blocked after Meta allowed social media users in Ukraine to post messages urging violence against Russian President Vladimir Putin and his troops.
The interior ministry’s database has no details on Stones’ case.
Mediazona reports that Russia placed the Meta spokesperson on the criminal wanted list in February 2022, but authorities made no related statements until this week.
Russia’s federal Investigative Committee opened a criminal probe of Meta in March this year, alleging the company’s actions following the invasion of Ukraine amounted to inciting violence against Russians.
Stone announced temporary changes to Meta’s hate speech policy in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, allowing “forms of political expression that would normally violate (its) rules, like violent speech such as ‘death to the Russian invaders.'”
Stone added in the same statement that “credible calls for violence against Russian civilians” will remain banned.
Earlier this month, an unspecified Russian court issued an arrest warrant for Stone on charges of “facilitating terrorism.”
However, the claims from the report could not be independently verified.
Russia also formally barred Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg from entering the country in April last year.
Meta’s messaging app WhatsApp is excluded from the ban; the Tverskoi district court ruled this year.
“The decision does not apply to the activities of Meta’s messenger WhatsApp due to its lack of functionality for the public dissemination of information,” the court said.
Earlier this year, Russia’s media regulator, Roskomnadzor, demanded that Alphabet Inc’s Google stop spreading what it described as “threats” against Russian citizens on YouTube.