Telegram and the future of Russian Internet freedom
We’re now more than three weeks deep into Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and many are asking the question: What information is still reaching Russians? Unless you’re using a VPN to tunnel beneath the state’s censorship, Instagram is blocked, Facebook is blocked, Twitter is blocked, and YouTube is probably next. The independent news media is in tatters, and it looks like the main social networks left standing will be domestic services like Odnoklassniki and Vkontakte, which enforce the Kremlin’s political censorship — and then there’s Telegram.
For a better understanding of what this means for Russia’s information space — focusing particularly on Russians’ increased reliance on Telegram — The Naked Pravda welcomes back Dr. Tanya Lokot, an associate professor in Digital Media and Society at the School of Communications at Dublin City University in Ireland, and Dr. Mariëlle Wijermars, an assistant professor in Cyber-Security and Politics at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. The two scholars recently coauthored an article published in the journal Post-Soviet Affairs, titled, “Is Telegram a ‘Harbinger of Freedom’? The Performance, Practices, and Perception of Platforms as Political Actors in Authoritarian States.”
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