Since the 24th of February 2022, when Russia began an open military invasion of Ukraine, the lives of many Ukrainian and Russian citizens have been drastically altered. Among the many changes they have experienced, including the loss of lives and properties, many Russian and Ukrainian citizens have also lost their sources of livelihood.
On the 7th of March, 2022, Upwork, one of the leading freelance sites in the world, announced its intention to suspend business operations in Russia and Belarus. In the statement which they made public on their website, Upwork referred to Russia’s attack on Ukraine as a “senseless aggression,” stating that “Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has challenged our mission, values, and our operational ability to bring economic empowerment to those who seek it.” However, they expressed their willingness to resume operations in the country when peace and sanity returns. Nevertheless, many Upwork users, both citizens and outsiders alike condemned Upwork’s decision, stating that they were punishing innocent citizens for the actions of a bad leader.
On the 11th of March 2022, Russia’s communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, officially banned Russia from Instagram, giving Russian users a 48-hour grace period to say goodbye to the photo and video sharing platform that connects millions of people all over the world. According to Roskomnadzor, the decision was influenced by Instagram’s parent company, META, agreeing to allow posts calling for violence against Russians on Instagram and Facebook (which was banned in the country on the 4th of March).
In a video response to the decree, American businessman and the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, said, “We know that over 80 percent of people in Russia on Instagram follow an account from outside of Russia. The situation is terrifying, and we are trying to do all we can to keep people safe.”
Many Russian-based influencers and content creators took to their accounts in tears to express their displeasure over the sudden ban. Many of them stated that they were about to lose thousands of dollars they received to promote various products due to the decree and access to their account and the large following that they have painstakingly built over the years. Instagram has nearly sixty million users in Russia, about forty percent of the country’s population.
These days, social media apps have evolved from being just entertainment tools. Many people have found ways to make money through these apps and sites to sustain themselves and their families. This dependence is why bans such as these are not as inconsequential as they might have been ten years ago.