As the war continues to unfold, a powerful dictator has subjected innocent people to a war of aggression and made Ukrainian citizens suffer. The social media ban in Russia that started on the 4th of March 2022 was just a way to get control within his country. It was his way of stopping information from reaching Russia to avoid opposition. But what this incredibly rich Russian dictator forgot was that millions of people use social media as their sole source of income!
According to the Russian Research marketing team, around 49% of Russians are active social media users. With a population that big, that’s nearly 70 million people!
Putin’s propagandistic efforts to gaslight, manipulate, and withhold information from local Russians, came with a hefty price that he did not have to pay.
Wars happen and leaders will shake hands, they will be left with enough money to go on their day-to-day life, the ones left suffering are the innocent civilians, and this social media ban was just another example of this statement.
It is very difficult to attract an audience and keep it up for years and finally watch the numbers grow. But due to the censorship before the social media ban, many Russian bloggers and businesses lost most of their following as they saw they had not raised any awareness on their platform about the ongoing war.
Many people raised their voices against Russian influencers, calling them tone-deaf for not speaking up about the Ukraine war. Little did they know, they had no clue a war was even breaking out.
It wasn’t until wealthy businessmen’s cards started declining that they actually registered that something was going on.
But of course, censorship wasn’t enough and when Russians started getting informed of the war, they suddenly disappeared from social media.
“One day, and these nine years are gone. It turns out that my life — my work — has been blocked,” stated @sveta_13 on her Instagram account.
Those who are outside, claim that this isn’t a big deal as those who lost their homes and had to evacuate to protect themselves.
While that is true, it is something to lose years and years of hard work over a war you had no hand in.
With an already failing economy, you would think the last thing needed was to stress it out further, but that was not the case with a dictator who proved he cared about nothing more than his inflated ego. Not only did it snatch the only source of income for thousands of people, but it just added a strain on their economy with less revenue being generated than before.
“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.”– said a food blogger whose sole income came from her Instagram.
To many of us, seeing our jobs slip out of our hands for something we were not responsible for is not easy. Losing the good flow of money, not knowing where the next meal comes from under the rule of a dictator who is fully loaded with all the luxuries of life.
“It’s a very bad situation right now, and we’re trying to make sure that the human rights of people are respected,” – stated Natalia Krapiva.
Loss of brand deals was another hit to their already falling career. With popular brands pulling out of Russia due to the war, there weren’t many international brands to salvage for influencers who got paid from brand deals. However, this proved differently for local Russian businesses.
Local Russian businesses have been around for decades, before the war, they were looked down upon, usually used by the lower class. With international brands in support of the Russian social media ban, these businesses have been flourishing within Russia. Since the imposition of the Sanctions by the European Union, the UK, and the US, the Russian ruble was worthless outside of Russia. The rate has been dropping fast and it has been nearly impossible to purchase anything in dollars. This proved to be a plus point for Russian businesses whose prices remained moderate for the most part. But this was not all butterflies and rainbows as it seems.
Some businesses require raw materials from outside of the borders. With the ongoing war, no country wants to enter into any deal with Russia to avoid supporting a dictator. This caused a huge loss for a lot of businesses within the country that heavily depended on outside exports and caused their prices to rise or the businesses went bankrupt and immediately shut down.
A man named Roman Golov started his business from scratch and worked his way up with his insane handcrafting skills.
It took him 8 years to get 10.4k followers on Instagram. His orders came internationally and nationally via his Instagram. Alas, it was short-lived, 8 whole years of relentless hard work all down the drain because of the Instagram ban.
From the devaluing of the ruble to the Instagram ban and of course, the sanctions that have been imposed, all of these have proved to work negatively among those who have depended on Instagram for years.
“There’s not really any alternative to Instagram,” Golov told The Times.
He also stated that telegram didn’t expand his work fast enough and other platforms charge money.
However, many people are shocked to learn that this wasn’t the first time a social media ban occurred in Russia.
In 2016, Linkedin was banned, since authorities accused it of violating data retention laws. And this was during the time of Linkedln’s newfound popularity. Not to mention the attempted Telegram ban 2 years ago.
The country’s prosecutor has declared Meta to be “extremist” and spreading wrongful and biased information about Russia. This was some gaslighting we ought to see!
The Facebook ban was easy to get over. It was largely used by urban and liberal Russians, and Instagram was more widespread. Almost 40% of Instagram users are Russian.
“For any new projects, this is a huge blow”, said a representative of All Your Friends.
Even though a lot of people have lost their life’s work and have to find completely new jobs they have tried to move on without making a big fuss. As much as they want to protest against the loss of their incomes, they do understand the current war situation.
“Instagram was an excellent tool,” said Natalia Surinova, a Moscow photographer.
“But I’m ready to move to new platforms, and try and solve new problems.”
With that being said, we do hope for the best for the Russians who played no part in the war yet had to suffer the consequences, and our hearts go out to those in Ukraine who had to leave behind their whole lives.