With Instagram banned, Russians are further isolated from the world

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Russia was expected to ban Instagram early Monday. Roskomnadzor, Russia’s communications regulator, said: “We must ensure the mental health of citizens, especially children and young people, to protect them from online harassment and insults.”

In a video response, Instagram boss Adam Mosseri said: “The Russian government has decided to block Instagram in Russia and cut off millions of people from their loved ones and friends around the world. We know that over 80 percent of people in Russia follow an account from outside Russia on Instagram. The situation is appalling and we are trying everything we can to keep people safe.”

Paul Sonne and Mary Ilyushina of The Washington Post wrote: “The Instagram ban is the latest example of how Russia’s citizens are being isolated from the rest of the world as a result of Moscow’s war against Ukraine. Since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion on February 24, his government has also pulled the plug on Russia’s opposition-leaning radio and television stations, part of a broader effort to quell domestic dissent in response to the war. Thousands of Russians were arrested for trying to protest the invasion.”

It is believed that Russia has between 60 and 80 million Instagram users.

Instagram is owned by Meta, which also owns Facebook. Russia had already banned Facebook on March 4th.

Last week, Meta said it would temporarily change its Ukraine-only hate speech policy following the Russian invasion. Messages like “Death to the Russian invaders” would be allowed. Sonne and Ilyushina wrote: “The US company made an exception to its policy against incitement to violence as long as the posts contained political expression against the incursion of Russian forces into Ukraine. Meta said calls for violence against ordinary Russian citizens would remain banned.”

While the Russian government is doing its best to limit (and control) what information gets to its citizens, a new website is working to bypass the Kremlin and get the true story to individuals in Russia.

The Wall Street Journal’s Bojan Pancevski reports that a website developed by programmers in Poland has obtained 20 million mobile phone numbers and 140 million email addresses from Russian individuals and companies. Pancevski wrote: “The website randomly generates numbers and addresses from these databases and allows anyone around the world to message them, with the option to use a canned message in Russian urging people to stop the President’s media censorship.” to bypass Vladimir Putin. Since its March 6 launch, thousands of people around the world, including many in the US, have used the site to send millions of messages in Russian, footage from the war, or images from Western media reports detailing Russia’s attack on civilians document. according to Squad303, as the group that wrote the tool calls themselves.”

A spokesman for Squad303 told the journal: “Our goal was to break through Putin’s digital wall of censorship and ensure that the Russian people are not completely cut off from the world and the reality of what Russia is doing in Ukraine.”

It’s not known exactly how effective these messages are, and there could be a serious downside.

The Journal wrote: “Receiving such messages could pose risks for some residents of Russia. Russian police were filmed checking people’s cellphones and reading their communications after a series of anti-war protests in recent days.”

During her show “Sunday Mornings Futures” on Fox News, Anchor Maria Bartiromo made an eyebrow-raising comment about President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Bartiromo said: “Some people told me over the weekend that they believe that this government does not see Putin as an enemy at the end of the day, but as a partner … on many issues. They see him as a partner in climate change. They see him as a partner in the Iran deal. When will this government seriously say to Vladimir Putin: “We are done with partnerships”. That means no Iran deal, walk away, no more renegotiations on America’s behalf. No more products from Russia… truly a pariah to the world. But we are not there yet.”

That Bartiromo suggests that Biden “does not see Putin as an enemy” and that he sees him “as a partner” is misleading and journalistically irresponsible. Especially considering Bartiromo has frequently engaged in cozy interviews with former President Donald Trump, who has praised Putin in the past.

Bartiromo’s comments came during an interview with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who told Bartiromo, “The Biden administration views Putin as a partner on climate change and a dealmaker with Iran, rather than as a war criminal. Biden is more afraid of Putin’s defeat than he is happy about Ukraine’s victory. let me hear it Victory for Ukraine!”

The Daily Beast’s Justin Baragona has more on the interview.

Baragona also tweeted Bartiromo’s comments that the Biden administration does not see Putin as an enemy but as a partner on many issues. MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle retweeted and wrote Baragona’s tweet“For any business journalist watching this downward spiral, it’s like believing in Batman your whole life and then one day realizing he’s actually the Joker.”

Ruhle later tweeted“I can’t take care of it.”

Actor William Hurt in 2016. (Rich Fury/Invision/AP)

Actor William Hurt, who won a Best Actor Oscar for his performance in Kiss of the Spider Woman in 1986, has died. Next week he would have been 72 years old. The cause of death was not disclosed, but Hurt was diagnosed with end-stage prostate cancer in 2018. (Brent Lang and J. Kim Murphy of Variety have an obituary.)

Though known for a brilliant career that has included roles on The Big Chill, Children of a Lesser God, Gorky Park, and Body Heat, among dozens more, he may be best remembered by many, for playing that role of a journalist on “Broadcast News” in 1987. Alongside Holly Hunter and Albert Brooks, Hurt played a TV host/reporter who had the good looks and charisma – if not the journalistic skills – to make a Star Network being a news personality. His performance earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.

Most of you have probably seen “Broadcast News,” but if you haven’t, watch it now. It’s hilarious and Hurt is great. And by the way, when I compiled my list of the 25 best movies about journalism in 2018, “Broadcast News” came in at number 2.

Hurt was also in another film with journalistic connections. In 1981 he starred in Eyewitness. Hurt played a janitor in love with a TV news reporter played by Sigourney Weaver. Hurt’s character reveals that he knows more about the murder of a wealthy businessman than he actually does in order to get closer to Weaver’s character, who is investigating the murder.

Sports broadcaster Joe Buck in 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth, File)

The big shuffle, involving some of the NFL’s top broadcasters, was almost as exciting as the transactions involving some of the league’s top quarterbacks. (I said almost.)

The big move came earlier this month when Troy Aikman, currently perhaps the best analyst in the NFL, left Fox Sports on a purported five-year, $92.5 million deal to dub “Monday Night Football” for ESPN.

Now it appears his longtime Fox Sports partner Joe Buck is joining him on “MNF.” The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand broke the news that Fox Sports has given Buck permission to speak to ESPN. (Buck has one year left on his deal with Fox, but Fox is willing to let Buck out of his deal.)

Buck’s move is big. He’s only 52, but the son of legendary announcer Jack Buck has been with Fox Sports since 1994 and has become the network’s top voice in sports. He has scheduled 24 World Series and six Super Bowls for Fox. Sources tell Marchand he is expected to sign a five-year deal in the $60 million to $75 million range with ESPN.

By spending that kind of money, ESPN is clearly trying to pump some momentum into “Monday Night Football,” where the last broadcast crew of Steve Levy-Louis Riddick-Brian Griese was good but not spectacular. What’s interesting, though, is that ESPN will certainly be highlighting the Buck-Aikman tandem on ESPN while the Manning Brothers continue to make their ManningCast on ESPN2 for many weeks to come. It should be noted that ESPN/ABC has the next Super Bowl in 2027.

But Fox Sports has two of the next three Super Bowls, including next season — and it just lost its A-Team. Multiple reports say Kevin Burkhardt, who is already calling games for Fox Sports, is his turn to replace Buck. As a replacement for Aikman, Fox could go with Greg Olsen, who already works with Burkhardt.

Meanwhile, other moves are being announced in the NFL announcement world: Amazon announced last week that Kirk Herbstreit would be the color analyst on “Thursday Night Football.” Herbstreit will continue as ESPN’s top collegiate football analyst. Al Michaels, quite possibly the best NFL play-by-play guy of all time and still at the height of his game at 77, is likely to sign a three-year, $33 million deal to become Amazon’s play-by-play announcer to become.

Actually, when I think about it, this stuff might be more interesting than the quarterback shuffle in the NFL. Then again, Here’s the sports tweet of the day from the GOAT himself, Tom Brady:

“In the last two months it has become clear to me that my place is still on the field and not in the stands. That time will come. But it’s not now. I love my teammates and I love my supportive family. You make everything possible. I’m coming back for my 23rd season in Tampa. Unfinished business.”

Impressive.

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