I would like to introduce you to another social network called VK. You probably have not heard about it, but it is the most popular social network in the Russian-speaking world.
Initially, VK was called ‘vkontakte’ that translates as ‘being in contact’. It started just like Facebook, it was founded in 2006 by Pavel Durov who just graduated from St Petersburg State University. At the beginning, user registration was only available by invitation and was limited to university circles, but the social network grew rapidly. Now it has over 340 million registered accounts and over 81 000 000 average daily users.
In many ways, VK resembles Facebook. You can add pictures, exchange messages with your friends, join communities, create events, use it as a news source by following the corresponding pages, etc. However, VK also has imbedded audio and video players that mean that you can access almost all music available online and many films and TV shows on one platform for free.
From the point of view of a regular user, I find VK extremely useful because mostly everything I need from the internet I can find on one web site.
However, as to implications to the media industry, VK seems to harm music and film industries because content that is usually available there violates the copyright laws. I will go in more detail about that in week 7 blog post.
Furthermore, it seems that the illusion that VK provides all the information and content you need makes it a powerful tool for propaganda. For many it is the only news source, but it cannot be said to be 100% reliable and it does not provide the whole picture. It was also widely used as a weapon in ‘the information war’ between Russia and Ukraine during the ongoing conflict to spread untruthful information and raise panic. If you want to see the famous ‘russian bots’ in action I welcome you have a look at a comment section under any post in any popular community that does not moderate its comments.