MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian social media reported a spike in activity during the global Facebook blackout on Monday which Moscow officials said showed Russia was right to develop its own sovereign internet platforms and social media.
Russia has for years sought to assert greater sovereignty over its internet segment, pressuring foreign tech companies to remove content and store data in Russia. It has also improved its ability to block platforms that break its rules.
Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said Monday evening during the nearly six-hour outage of Facebook services that this “answers the question of whether we need our own social networks and internet platforms “.
Facebook blamed its outage, which prevented its 3.5 billion users from accessing services like WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger, to a faulty configuration change.
Russia’s largest social network, Vkontakte, has many more daily users in the country than Facebook and has reported an increase in the number of posts and users after the fall of Facebook’s services.
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“The number of views of Vkontakte videos increased by 18% and the number of messages sent in Messenger by 21%,” Izvestia newspaper said quoting Marina Krasnova, head of the social network.
She said that the site’s audience jumped 19% compared to the day before.
Odnoklassniki, another popular social network, said activity on its site increased during the Facebook outage, RIA news agency reported.
Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki are owned by Russian technology company Mail.Ru.
Russia disconnected from the global internet in tests earlier this year, in an attempt to protect the country from being cut off from foreign infrastructure.
(Report by Alexander Marrow and Maria Vasilyeva, edited by Tom Balmforth and Giles Elgood)
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