Russian Citizens Are Looking For Ways Around Putin's Social Media Ban

Hannah Smith

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Russian Citizens Are Looking For Ways Around Putin's Social Media Ban

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Russian citizens have been taking matters into their own hands after several major social media networks were blocked in the country.

Over the course of the past week, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have all been partially or totally banned by the Kremlin as the Russian government seeks to control what its citizens see and learn of their country's invasion of Ukraine.

As a result, ordinary Russians are scrambling to find ways to stay online, with many turning to VPNs (virtual private networks) that connect your device to a remote server, allowing you to bypass bans in place in your home country.

Facebook in Russia (Alamy)
Facebook in Russia (Alamy)

According to Top10VPN, searches for VPN services have more than doubled over the past week, with queries peaking at 260,000 on March 5, the day after Russia announced plans to ban access to Facebook.

'By replacing their Russian IP address with that of the remote server, which will typically be in another country, using a VPN means Russians can access internet services that are blocking Russian traffic,' Simon Migliano, the company's head of research, told The Guardian.

VPNs are already commonly in use in other countries that restrict internet access, including in China, where many people use them to get around similar blocks on western social media that have been in place for years as part of the country's 'great firewall'.

Amid fears that Russia could be set to cut itself off from the global internet entirely, Migliano said that it was more likely that Putin would choose to go down a similar route to China.

Social media apps in Russia (Alamy)
Social media apps in Russia (Alamy)

'While Russia is certainly capable of cutting itself off from the global internet, the economic and social cost would be grave. What’s more likely is that the Kremlin tries to copy China’s ‘great firewall’ and strictly control all internet traffic coming in and out of the country,' he said.

Russia already operates several of its own social media platforms, including VK – the country's most visited website – however western sites like Instagram are still popular, especially with Russian influencers.

As well as losing access to Facebook, Russians have also found themselves cut off from western media, with news sites including the BBC blocked by the Kremlin, which last week passed a new law that could see journalists jailed for referring to the country's invasion of Ukraine as a 'war'.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

Topics: Technology, Russia, Social Media

Hannah Smith
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