Social media giant Russia asked Facebook for an explanation on Thursday after the social media giant said it had derailed a campaign that misled Russians to protest the arrest of Kremlin critic Alexei Navani.

The US-based social network stated that its automated system detected and disabled 530 Instagram accounts that were used in a campaign against demonstrators marching on the streets of Russia after Navalny was arrested in mid-January.

Russia’s communications monitoring agency said: “The Russian Ministry of Defense sent a letter to Facebook’s management asking for a list of accounts with restricted access and an explanation of the reasons for blocking the accounts.”

Roskomnadzor requires Facebook, which has an image-centric service, to also provide evidence that the blocked account is involved in “illegal activity.”

David Agranovich, the head of Facebook’s global threat destruction, said the Instagram account network was “poisoned” by using tags and locations usually associated with spam or financial scams, flooding the protesters’ posts.

According to samples provided by Facebook, some Instagram posts imply that people got COVID-19 and died as a result of participating in protests.

Facebook reported that 55,000 people followed one or more Instagram accounts.

In January and February, thousands of opposition supporters took to the streets to protest against Navani’s arrest and President Vladimir Putin’s two-year rule.

Navalny was sentenced to two and a half years in prison in a criminal colony last month for violating the terms of parole, while in Germany, he recovered from a poisoning attack on the Novichok nerve agent.


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