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Kremlin would have to halt Facebook operator in Russia if calls for violence allowed

Kremlin would have to halt Facebook operator in Russia if calls for violence allowed
People are seen as silhouettes as they check mobile devices whilst standing against an illuminated wall bearing Facebook Inc.s logo in this arranged photograph in London, U.K., on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

LONDON, March 11 (Reuters) - Russia will end the activities of Meta Platforms FB.O, operator of social media sites Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, if a Reuters report that the company will allow users in some countries to call for violence against Russians and Russian soldiers is true, the Kremlin said on Friday.

“We don’t want to believe the Reuters report – it is just too difficult to believe,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“We hope it is not true because if it is true then it will mean that there will have to be the most decisive measures to end the activities of this company,” he said.

A Meta spokesperson confirmed it had temporarily eased its rules for political speech, allowing posts such as “death to the Russian invaders”, although it would not allow calls for violence against Russian civilians.

The temporary change aimed to allow for forms of political expression that would normally violate its rules on violent speech, the company said.

Internal emails seen by Reuters showed it had also temporarily allowed posts that call for death to Russian President Vladimir Putin or Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

An influential parliamentarian called on Friday for Meta’s Instagram to be blocked in Russia.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Mark Trevelyan and Jason Neely)

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