According to the online database of the interior ministry, Russia has included the spokesperson of Meta, the American tech company that owns Facebook and Instagram, on their wanted list.
The news of Andy Stone being added to the list was initially reported by Russian state agency Tass and independent news outlet Mediazona on Sunday. This came after Russian authorities declared Meta, the parent company of Facebook, as a “terrorist and extremist” organization in October. This could potentially lead to legal action against Russian users of its platforms.
The database of the interior ministry does not provide specific information about Stone’s case, but it does mention that he is being sought for criminal charges.
Mediazona reported that Stone was placed on the wanted list in February 2022 by Russian authorities, however, no statements were made and there was no coverage from news media until this week.
In March of this year, the federal Investigative Committee in Russia initiated a criminal investigation against Meta. They claimed that the company’s actions after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 could be seen as promoting violence against Russian individuals.
Following the incursion of Russian soldiers into Ukraine, Stone declared a temporary revision to Meta’s policy on hate speech, permitting certain types of political expression that would typically be deemed in violation of its rules, such as aggressive language like “death to the Russian invaders.”
Stone also stated that any calls for violence against Russian civilians that are deemed credible will continue to be prohibited.
On Sunday, Mediazona reported that a Russian court issued an arrest warrant for Stone in relation to charges of “facilitating terrorism.” The source of this information was not specified and could not be confirmed by an independent source.
Before the conflict between Moscow and Ukraine, popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and X (previously known as Twitter) were widely used by young Russians. However, as part of a larger effort to suppress independent media and critical expression, these platforms have been banned in Russia and can now only be accessed through a virtual private network (VPN).
In April 2022, Russia implemented a formal ban on Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s entry into the country.