Russian influencers bid tearful goodbyes to followers after Instagram ban

Russia has blocked Instagram and Facebook amid social media crackdown

<p>Russian influencer, Olga Buzova, posted a video on her Instagram account saying goodbye to her 23.3 million followers after Russia blocked the platform</p>

Russian influencer, Olga Buzova, posted a video on her Instagram account saying goodbye to her 23.3 million followers after Russia blocked the platform

Russian influencers with millions of followers have said emotional goodbyes to their audiences after the country announced a ban on Instagram from Monday.

Russia’s state censorship agency Roskomnadzor made the announcement on Friday, citing Instagram’s parent company Meta’s decision to allow posts that call for violence against Russians involved in the invasion in Ukraine on its platforms, which also includes Facebook.

One of the most prominent influencers, reality TV star Olga Buzova, posted a lengthy video on Sunday in which she cried at the loss of her followers.

Buzova, who has 23.3 million Instagram followers, said: “I am not afraid of admitting that I do not want to lose you. I do not know what the future holds.

“I just shared my life, my work and my soul,” she added. “I did not do this all as a job for me, this is a part of my soul. It feels like a big part of my heart, and my life is being taken away from me.”

In her caption to the seven-minute video, the star wrote: “I love you. Sorry for the emotions… but you loved me anyway and I wanted to tell you once again: Thank you for everything.”

Nexta, a Belarusian media outlet that provides coverage online, posted a video of an unnamed Russian influencer who is seen sobbing because of the ban.

According to Insider, the content creator said in Russian: “Do you think that for me, as an Instagram influencer, this is a source of income? To me, it’s all life. It’s the soul. It’s the one thing with which I wake up, fall asleep. F***ing five years in a row.”

As of November 2021, there were more than 62.9 million Instagram users in Russia, equivalent to roughly 34 per cent of total users, according to data firm Statista.

Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, condemned the Kremlin’s decision to ban Instagram and said it will “cut off 80 million in Russia off from one another, and from the rest of the world as ~80 per cent of people in Russia follow an Instagram account outside their country”.

“This is wrong,” he added.

Many Russian Instagram influencers, such as Valeria Chekalina, urged their audiences to follow them on newly-created channels on Telegram, a messaging and social media platform.

Others may migrate their content to Russian-made social networks, including VKontakte and Odnoklassniki, both of which are owned by Russia’s largest internet company, the VK Group.

According to The Times, GosUslugi, a state-run portal for public services, said in a mass email to millions of users that the ban on Instagram was out of concern for “Russians’ psychological health” and encouraged them to return to Russian social networks instead.

The Russian population has been hit by a slew of sanctions since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February. A number of major retailers and food firms have stopped trading in the country, including McDonald’s, Coca Cola, Starbucks, Chanel, LVMH and more.

According to the UNHCR, more than two million people have fled Ukraine since the war began.

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