telegram: How Telegram and WhatsApp may have avoided Russia bans

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Like a chat platform WhatsApp And Telegram The blockade by Russia has been avoided – unlike some of the world’s major social networks – in a weak tolerance that experts warn could end abruptly.
After the Ukraine invasion, tensions between Moscow and US-based Facebook and Twitter began year after year, with platforms targeting state-bound media and then finding themselves confined to Russia.
YouTube, which has banned channels affiliated with Russian state media worldwide, received direct threats to block on Friday after Russia’s media regulator, Roscommonadzor, accused site owner Google of being “anti-Russian”.
Messaging apps, however, have gotten a pass in part because Meta-owned WhatsApp is less suitable for mass communication, while Telegram’s ability to explode information to large groups has made it suitable for both independent media and the Kremlin.
“I think it is unlikely that Russia will ban telegrams because they are too small on the platform where they can work,” he said. Sergei SanovichA postdoctoral researcher at Princeton University who noted that authorities had canceled attempts to block the service in 2020.
The Telegram, criticized for its lax content policing policy, offers the Russian authorities a forum to spread friendly descriptions of their internationally condemned war.
Russia still operates accounts on platforms such as Facebook, despite blocking the service at home, but this week removed posts from the pages of Silicon Valley giant Moscow that contained misinformation about its deadly attack.
The telegram has become an essential exchange for war news as the Kremlin’s latest crackdown on independent media and its growth accelerated after apps like Facebook and Instagram were locked out.
An average of 2.5 million new users joined Telegram every day in the last three weeks, the firm said, jumping about 25 percent compared to the previous week.
– ‘Declare war on YouTube’ – but experts highlight a risk for Telegram and its users due to the lack of default, end-to-end encryption that makes the company vulnerable to government pressure to retrieve information.
Alp TokarWhatsApp, the director of the web monitoring group NetBlocks, noted that WhatsApp has set up a firestop that offers insulation against such pressures.
“By improving their security and adopting end-to-end encryption technology, they have basically protected their own platform from legal risks and potential demand for content access requests,” Tokar added.
The use of WhatsApp for one-on-one or group chat makes it less noticeable to Russian authorities at the moment, but it could change if it is identified as the main platform for anti-war protests.
“Initially, Roskomnadzor was very concerned about the channel and the way it disseminated information to the news and to a large number of people, for whom WhatsApp and the like are less good,” he said. Eva GalperinDirector of Cyber ​​Security at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
But Tokar noted that the question has not yet reached a critical stage for the authorities, partly because it was a social media platform, many of which are now blocked, which played an important role in organizing.
“As they (platforms) disappear, mobility may change and messaging apps may become the next target,” he added.
WhatsApp was one of the most popular apps in Russia in 2021, with about 67 million users or about 65 percent of the country’s Internet users – far ahead. Tick ​​tockAccording to information from the Russian social media platform VK, even Telegram, eMarketer.
But data shows that YouTube, with 76 million viewers in 2021, attracted more Russians than any of the above platforms.
Its popularity was due in part to the fact that it offered entertainment for everyday Russians, who provided an audience to attract the attention of politicians and the government.
Sanovich, a Princeton researcher, said the platform had simply led the authorities in the wrong direction.
“They have had a difficult time controlling YouTube in terms of censorship, and recent moves by YouTube have made it less valuable as a place for foreign advertising,” he noted.
The lack of a sufficiently high-quality indigenous alternative has also been a critical factor for governments in deciding what to do with YouTube.
Tokar, director of Netblocks, warned that blocking YouTube would mean Google would be confronted with a suite of services like Gmail.
“Declaring war effectively on YouTube means declaring war on the rest of the company,” he noted. “Google is a major force in business and a significant connection to the outside world.”

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