Instagram has started hiding follower information for private accounts in Russia and Ukraine, the latest response by the social app to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops.
In a corporate blog post on Tuesday, Instagram parent company Meta said it was “hiding information about people’s followers, who they’re following, and people who are following each other for private accounts based in these two countries.” It also confirmed the rollout of labels people will see when sharing links to Russian state media and that Instagram was demoting such media in its main feed and Stories tray. In addition, media under the control of the Russian government isn’t being recommended in Instagram’s Explore section or in Reels, its TikTok competitor.
The Russian government has already blocked access to Instagram’s sister app, Facebook, along with a slew of western media outlets, in an effort to control what Russian citizens see about its bloody invasion of Ukraine. Facebook was recently blocked in Russia for enacting the same enforcement against Russian state media, so Instagram is risking being blocked by the government as well. Instagram has significantly more users in Russia than Facebook, according to third-party estimates, while WhatsApp (which Meta also owns) is the most used messaging app in the country.