Meta launches encrypted Instagram DM in Russia and Ukraine

Meta is ramping up efforts to crack down on Russian propaganda on its platform and keep Russian and Ukrainian users safe, including offering encrypted Instagram direct messages in Russia and Ukraine and demoting Russian state media Facebook posts globally.

The company will also downgrade the Facebook posts of users who link to Russian state media, and the company plans to bring those changes to Instagram as well.

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Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, announced the new features on Tuesday, adding that Instagram will notify users that they can switch to encrypted chats.

Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp already offer encryption. “We feel our number one priority is to continue to keep people using our services as safe as possible,” Clegg told reporters by phone.

Russia has responded to Facebook’s actions against state media outlets, announcing last week that it would begin to partially restrict Facebook in the country. In this regard, Clegg said — “the degradation of the service is absolutely visible,” especially when it comes to photos and videos.

Clegg said Meta has been in contact with the Ukrainian government and is responding to government requests from around the world, including requests for Meta to completely block its services in Russia, which the company has refused to do.

“We’ve explained why we disagreed with this,” Clegg said, “and we believe that as long as this continues, ordinary Russians can use our services to express themselves, organize and protest, and buddy their families in the wider community. Connecting with friends is crucial.”

However, Meta has responded to requests from the EU and Ukraine to block RT and Sputnik in the region. It also banned Russian state media from advertising or making money from advertising on its platforms.

Clegg stressed that these security measures are a work in progress and are likely to change as the situation develops. “We’re in a particularly unprecedented situation,” he said. “It’s a very special and tragic state.”

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