Meta Spokesperson Andy Stone Wanted in Russia: Criminal Charges Imposed

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Inclusion in Wanted List Follows Meta’s Classification as “Terrorist and Extremist”

Russian authorities have placed Andy Stone, the spokesperson for Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, on a wanted list, signaling criminal charges against him. The Russian interior ministry’s database indicates Stone’s status without providing further details regarding the nature of the charges. This development comes in the wake of Russia categorizing Meta as a “terrorist and extremist” organization a few weeks ago, paving the way for potential legal actions against Russian users of Meta’s platforms. Meta has not yet responded to requests for comments on this matter.

Stone Added to Wanted List in February 2022

According to reports from Russian state agency Tass and independent news outlet Mediazona, Stone was added to the wanted list in February 2022. However, there were no official statements or media coverage on this matter until recently. In March of the same year, Russia’s federal Investigative Committee initiated a criminal investigation into Meta, alleging that the company’s actions post-Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February amounted to inciting violence against Russians.

Allegations of Facilitating Terrorism

Mediazona, citing unspecified sources, claimed that an arrest warrant for Stone on charges of “facilitating terrorism” was issued earlier this month by an unspecified Russian court. The veracity of this information could not be independently verified. Stone had previously announced temporary changes to Meta’s hate speech policy after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, permitting certain forms of political expression that would typically violate the platform’s rules, such as “death to the Russian invaders.” However, credible calls for violence against Russian civilians remained prohibited.

Meta’s Status and Ongoing Restrictions

Since the 2022 invasion of Ukraine, major Western social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and X (formerly Twitter), have been blocked in Russia as part of a broader crackdown on independent media and critical speech. These platforms are now accessible only through Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). In April 2022, Russia officially barred Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg from entering the country.

As tensions between Meta and Russian authorities escalate, the inclusion of Meta’s spokesperson on the wanted list further underscores the challenging environment faced by major tech companies in navigating geopolitical disputes and restrictions imposed by governments. The unfolding situation raises questions about the impact on freedom of expression and the ability of these platforms to operate in highly regulated environments.

SOURCE: Ref Image from NDTV

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