On March 21, 2022, the Tverskoy District Court of Moscow issued a decision to recognize Meta Platform Inc. as an extremist organization (hereinafter referred to as the Decision), which may result in a prohibition of the use of Instagram and Facebook logos. The text of the Decision was published on the court’s website on March 28, 2022.
Acsour’s Legal Department studied the main business issues and came to the following conclusions.
Instagram and Facebook accounts can be used. As stated in the court’s Decision, the recognition of Meta as an organization engaged in extremist activities does not limit the actions of individuals and legal entities not participating in activities prohibited by law to use Meta’s software products.
The court recognized the activities of Meta as extremist in terms of posting, distributing and not taking measures to block materials containing calls for violent extremist actions against citizens of the Russian Federation and changing the foundations of the constitutional system, as a result of which such illegal activities should be stopped.
The court, in accordance with part 1 of article 212 of the Code of Civil Procedure of the Russian Federation, ordered immediate execution of a decision. The Decision that has entered into force prohibits, among other things, the use of symbols of an extremist organization.
In accordance with clause 4 of article 1 of the Federal Law No. 114-FZ “On countering extremist activity” dated July 25, 2002, the symbolism of an extremist organization is the symbolism, the description of which is contained in the constituent documents of the organization, with respect to which, on the grounds provided for by this Federal Law, the court has adopted a decision that has entered into force to liquidate or ban the activity in connection with the implementation of extremist activities.
Therefore, the law imposes a ban on the use of the Meta Platforms logo.
The use of Instagram and Facebook logos are not directly prohibited by law, since these logos are not included in the constituent documents of the organization, but in practice there is a risk of administrative liability under part 1 of article 20.3 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation for using these logos and imposing a fine of 10,000 – 15,000 rubles from the moment Meta is included in the list of extremist organizations.
The court’s Decision did not comment on the issue of further use of the logos of these social platforms.
Acsour’s Legal Department assesses the chance that legal entities can still be held liable for using the logos of these social platforms. At the moment, it is recommended to make an official request to the state authorities concerning the specific use of social platforms by companies.
Please note that the published materials, editable and new materials mentioning Instagram and Facebook should be accompanied by notes stating that the activities of their owner Meta are prohibited in the Russian Federation even though the organization has not yet been included in the list of extremist organizations by the Ministry of Justice of Russia. After the inclusion of Meta in such a list, it is already possible to hold persons liable for not using such a note under part 2 of article 13.15 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation.
Instagram and Facebook ads should be refrained from buying after the court’s Decision comes into force and Meta is included in the list of extremist organizations. It can be regarded as financing an extremist organization (article 282.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). However, please note that it is possible to verify whether the purchase of advertising on these social platforms constitutes a crime only after the first sentence in a similar case. In the court’s Decision, this issue is also not covered.
Therefore, in the conditions of legal uncertainty on the issue we have considered, we advise you to refrain from buying advertising on Instagram and Facebook, public placement, mentioning, displaying logos and hyperlinks to these social platforms. Any mention of them for informational purposes should be accompanied by notes stating that Meta activities are prohibited in the Russian Federation.
Acsour’s Legal Department will monitor compliance practices and assess clients’ risks.