The Russian Council of Bloggers has drafted a letter of complaint to Meta requiring $1 billion in compensation in favor of users and entrepreneurs of Instagram affected by the blocking, a Russian news outlet Vedomosti reports, citing the council's letter.

According to Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri, the social network had nearly 80 million users in Russia, which is more than half the country’s population. Hundreds if not thousands of bloggers, influencers, and creators are now left without their source of income.

It is Meta's responsibility to support Russian creators who are now left without their source of income as the company ignored the requirements of the local authorities, says Alexander Zhuravlev, the managing partner of the Efficient Business Resources law firm:

The argument is causation: if these platforms removed inappropriate content, they would not be blocked. Accordingly, due to Meta’s inaction to fulfill the requirements by Roskomnadzor, social networks were blocked.

The council plans to file a lawsuit against Meta should it ignore the $1 billion compensation; the decision on which court the lawsuit will be directed to has not yet been made, believes Valeria Rytvina, the founder of the Russian Council of Bloggers.

Left on their own

Meta's products indeed made a fortune for the top Russian bloggers. According to the Ukrainian arm of Forbes, official Instagram bloggers alone have made about $211 million in 2021.

Leading social media platforms in Russia in Q3, 2021. Source: statista.com
Leading social media platforms in Russia in Q3, 2021. Source: statista.com

According to data from Statista, Instagram took third place in the top 3 social networks by popularity in Russia, behind only VK — Russia’s alternative to Facebook — and WhatsApp.

Given that WhatsApp is more of a messenger than a social platform with a set of ad business models, Instagram in fact takes second place. Here's how Russian reality TV star Olga Buzova — with 23.1 million followers on Instagram — reacted to news about Russia banning the social network:

I don’t know what the future holds. I don't know. I just shared my life, my work, and my soul. 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.

On March 14, Russia restricted access to the social network after Facebook and Instagram allowed users in some countries to call for violence against Russians and Russian soldiers in the context of the Ukraine invasion, according to internal emails seen by Reuters.

Read also: Social media sanctions How TikTok, Reddit, Facebook and others fence off from Russian propaganda