Russian citizens who had been earning a living hawking their lifestyles and wares on Instagram have become increasingly desperate after President Vladimir Putin banned the company.
Putin took action against the social media company last week and banned it in the country as a source of “misinformation” about Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine.
The company and Putin had traded jabs since the war began three weeks ago, with Facebook and Instagram parent Meta Platforms (FB) – Get Meta Platforms Inc. Class A Report desperately trying to walk a tightrope between allowing users to express themselves and being a platform for Russophobia or violence.
The ban itself went into effect on Monday, and since then the internet and Russian media has been flooded with outcries from bereft local influencers.
One influencer was so upset that she posted herself on the platform saying that for “f–king five years in a row” she had been devoted to bringing herself and her ideas and brand to her Instagram followers, and was now questioning the purpose of life.
“To me, it’s all life. It’s the soul. It’s the one thing with which I wake up, fall asleep,” she said.
Scroll to Continue
That reaction sparked an immediate reaction on Twitter from people outraged by the invasion of Ukraine and the carnage it continues to wreak.
Why Are Russian Influencers So Upset?
Russian reality TV star Olga Buzova has been one of the most vocally heartbroken, saying that losing access to the platform made her feel like her life “was being taken away.”
She says in a seven-minute video about no longer having Instagram that “this is a part of my soul” and cried throughout, with frequent mentions of feeling lost and uncertain about the future.
Influencers affected by the ban certainly do have something economic to cry about — a well-followed, popular influencer can easily make six figures annually by representing various brands and becoming associated with events, popular culture and certain trends.
Russia has had a string of virally popular stars who were closely followed throughout the region, even in countries that were once part of the Soviet Union and still retain Russian speakers.
Names like Valeria Chekalina, Buzova and Liza Lukasheva had a collective total of almost 40 million followers, so a total ban on the platform with the nation — though not totally unexpected — came as a financial shock.
“I am not afraid of admitting that I do not want to lose you,” Buzova lamented to her 23.3 million fans in her video.