Meta Spokesperson Jailed in Russia Over Terrorism Comments

Meta Spokesperson Jailed in Russia Over Terrorism Comments

A court in Russia swiftly convicted Meta spokesperson Andy Stone of justifying terrorism, sentencing him to six years in prison in absentia. The charges stemmed from Stone’s remarks in 2022, where he adjusted Meta’s hate speech policy in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Stone permitted forms of political expression like ‘death to the Russian invaders,’ while maintaining a ban on calls for violence against Russian civilians. Despite these distinctions, Russian authorities accused Stone of making illegal calls to violence, leading to a criminal case against him and other Meta employees. Consequently, Meta was outlawed as an extremist organization, and access to Facebook, Instagram, and X (formerly Twitter) in Russia now requires VPNs.

Stone initially faced charges of calling for terrorist activity and extremist behavior, but these were later dropped. The trial, lasting only two days and featuring a government-appointed lawyer, ended with a six-year sentence for Stone and a four-year ban on website administration. Meta refrained from commenting on the outcome, highlighting the severe consequences faced by the communications director due to his controversial statements.

In a related move, Russia also prohibited Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg from entering the country, demonstrating the nation’s strict stance on individuals associated with the social media giant. The quick and decisive action against Stone underscores Russia’s zero-tolerance approach towards any perceived support for actions deemed detrimental to its interests. With this high-profile case, the discussion around freedom of expression and corporate accountability in global conflicts gains further attention, reflecting the complexities of navigating international relations and individual rights in the digital age.

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