The ban on Meta Platforms Inc.’s activities*: what should businesses and users take into account?
*Pepeliaev Group advises that, according to a Court’s ruling, Meta Platforms Inc. has been recognised as an extremist organisation and prohibited fr om doing business in Russia.
We recommend that you pay attention to the following issues.
Registering and maintaining accounts on Facebook and Instagram
In its decision the Court held that the bans imposed on Meta Platforms Inc. do not restrict actions of either individuals or legal entities that are not engaged in activity prohibited by the law which involves using Meta’s software products. Such activity includes extremist, terrorist and other activity prohibited in Russia. According to a statement of the First Deputy of the Prosecutor General, individuals or legal entities will not be held liable for using Facebook and Instagram. However, in our opinion, it is impossible at present to draw any firm conclusion as to whether it is lawful to register and maintain accounts on Facebook and Instagram.
Posting advertising on Facebook and Instagram
We believe risks are low of criminal liability being imposed for making any payments for the benefit of Meta Platforms Inc., including for the purposes of Meta Platforms Inc. providing advertising services on Facebook and Instagram (the services involving promotion of publications and other services), which occurred before Meta Platforms Inc. was recognised to be an extremist organisation.
However, if any such payments are made after Meta Platforms Inc. was recognised as an extremist organisation, we believe the risks are high of being held criminally liable under article 282.3(1) of the Russian Criminal Code (“The financing of extremist activity”).
Individuals and legal entities are advised to refrain fr om any payment for the benefit of Meta Platforms Inc., including unpegging means of payment from personal accounts used to manage advertising on Facebook and Instagram to avoid the automated writing off of funds.
There is no prohibition at the moment, as far as we know, against paying for advertising services to third parties (SMM, PR-agencies, etc.) to have them post advertising on Facebook and Instagram, or against posting advertising on these social networks independently.
Using logos of Meta Platforms Inc., Facebook and Instagram
Using logos of Meta Platforms Inc., Facebook and Instagram will highly likely serve as a ground for administrative liability to be imposed in the form of a fine of up to RUB 100,000 under article 20.3 of the Russian Code of Administrative Offences (“Propaganda or a public demonstration of Nazi attributes or symbols, or attributes or symbols of extremist organisations, or other attributes and symbols whose propaganda or public demonstration are prohibited by federal laws”).
Individuals and legal entities are advised to remove from their websites, business cards or other public sources the logos of Meta Platforms Inc., Facebook and Instagram. There is no information in the Court’s decision or other official sources regarding a ‘transitional’ period for removing the logos.
Referring to Meta Platforms Inc., Facebook and Instagram while disseminating information
According to Roskomnadzor, when disseminating information, Russian media outlets should label Meta Platforms Inc. as an organisation banned in Russia under article 4 of the Federal Law “On the media”. The label should indicate that Meta Platforms Inc.’s activities in Russia have been prohibited. This requirement does not apply to other individuals and legal entities. However, we believe that complying with the requirement may reduce the risk of administrative liability being imposed under article 20.3 of the Code of Administrative Offences.
If you make a reference to Facebook and Instagram, it is advisable to indicate that they are owned by Meta Platforms Inc. whose activities have been prohibited in Russia. This, in our opinion, will help to reduce the risk of liability.
Using web links and QR-codes to accounts in Facebook and Instagram
We believe that while using the web links and QR-codes, it is expedient to make a note that Facebook and Instagram are owned by Meta Platforms Inc. whose activity is prohibited in Russia. Potentially, this can reduce the risk of administrative liability being imposed under article 20.3 of the Code of Administrative Offences.
Acquiring securities of Meta Platforms Inc.
There is no official position of the regulatory body as to whether it is lawful to hold securities of Meta Platforms Inc. It is reasonable, in our opinion, to refrain from any transactions involving the acquisition of securities of Meta Platforms Inc. before the regulator issues its official position. Otherwise, the risk cannot be ruled out of criminal liability being imposed under article 282.3(1) of the Criminal Code.
Using software and other services of Meta Platforms Inc.
We believe that the risk of liability being imposed is low wh ere the software of Meta Platforms Inc., including Facebook API, the services of WhatsApp, Messenger and others, is used for free.
Wh ere payments are made to Meta Platforms Inc. under licence and other agreements, there are high risks of criminal liability being imposed under article 282.3(1) of the Criminal Code. Individuals and legal entities are advised to refrain from any payments to Meta Platforms Inc. before they obtain clarifications from the regulatory authority.
Notarising webpages of Facebook and Instagram
Whether it is possible to obtain a notarial certification of the webpages of Facebook and Instagram, including screen shots of them, to be used as evidence in court will be determined by court practice. There is no official position of the Federal Notarial Chamber on this matter so far.
What to think about and what to do
Individuals and legal entities are advised to bring their activities in line with the requirements of legislation on countering extremism. Otherwise, the risks cannot be ruled out of administrative or criminal liability being imposed.
Help from your adviser
We will monitor the official position of the regulator regarding the above issues and, if necessary, prepare further comments and clarifications.
Pepeliaev Group’s experts are ready to provide comprehensive legal support to companies that operate (are planning to operate) on the Internet.
Pepeliaev Group provides the following types of services:
auditing Internet services (including Internet sites) as to their regulatory compliance;
 Decision of the Tverskoy District Court of the city of Moscow dated 21 March 2022 in case No. 02-2473/2022. For more details on the case, please refer to our alert.
 Facebook and Instagram are owned by Meta Platforms Inc., whose activities have been banned in Russia.