The court has prohibited Meta Platforms Inc. from doing business in Russia

Pepeliaev Group advises that on 22 March 2022 the Tverskoy District Court held Meta Platforms Inc. to be an extremist organisation and prohibited it from doing business in Russia.

Meta Platforms Inc. (‘Meta’) is a multinational holding corporation which owns social networks Facebook and Instagram, as well as the WhatsApp messenger.

In connection with Russia’s special military operation in the territories of Donetsk People’s Republic, Lugansk People’s Republic and Ukraine, Meta, on a temporary basis, lifted a ban on the calls for violence against Russian military personnel in social networks Facebook and Instagram. This fact served as the ground for the First Deputy of the Russian Prosecutor General to apply to the Tverskoy District Court to have Meta’s operations prohibited in Russia.

Having heard the case[1], the Tverskoy District Court sustained the Prosecutor’s claims and held that Meta’s operations were banned in Russia which involve the sale of its products, the social networks Facebook and Instagram. The court’s ruling does not affect the messenger WhatsApp as it does not have the functions for publicly disseminating information.

What to think about and what to do

We believe that using logos of Meta, Facebook and Instagram can constitute the 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 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, Facebook and Instagram.

According to Roskomnadzor, when disseminating information Russian media outlets should label Meta, Facebook and Instagram as organisations banned in Russia under article 4 of the Federal Law “On the media” (“Inadmissibility of abusing the freedom of press”). Once Meta is included on the list of prohibited organisations, it will be possible to impose liability on those who do not ins ert the above label. Meta will be included on the list 30 calendar days after a copy of the court ruling which has come in to legal force reaches the Russian Ministry of Justice.

At present, Meta has a month to file an appeal before the ruling of the Tverskoy District Court comes into its legal force.

Meanwhile, according to the statement of the First Deputy of the Prosecutor General, individuals or legal entities will not be held liable for using the social networks Facebook and Instagram.

Help from your adviser

According to the website of the Tverskoy District Court, it is prohibited to publish the ruling under the Meta case pursuant to article 15(5) (“The specific aspects of how court rulings are posted on the Internet”) of Federal Law No. 262-FZ dated 22 December 2008. We will monitor the case and, if necessary, prepare further comments and clarifications.

We 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;

  • representing companies’ interests in their interactions with state authorities; and other services.

[1] Tverskoy District Court’s case No. 02-2473/2022.

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