Telegram has asked to overtake WhatsApp to become Russia’s top messenger

Telegram has become Russia’s most popular messaging tool, surpassing WhatsApp, mobile operator Megaphone said Monday, adding that Russians have jumped on the bandwagon due to Moscow’s restriction of some digital services.

WhatsApp owner Meta is embroiled in a Russian court case, with prosecutors seeking to identify it as an “extremist organization” and authorities actively promoting the telegram because they have banned other foreign platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine has fueled a heated dispute between foreign digital platforms and Moscow.

Megaphone, one of Russia’s four major telecom operators, said its analysis of mobile internet traffic showed that Telegram’s share had risen from 48 percent in the first two weeks of February to 63 percent in the first two weeks of March.

Shares of WhatsApp fell from 48 percent to 32 percent, Megaphone reported.

The average Telegram user consumes 101 MB of data per day, compared to 26 MB for WhatsApp.

Founded by Russian Pavel Durav, Telegram has long been a popular news platform in Russia, operating almost all major media, government agencies, and public personality content channels.

“The popularity of the service has grown against the backdrop of restrictions on access to other messengers and social networks,” Megaphone said in a statement. “The service began actively growing on February 24th.”

Russia sent thousands of troops to Ukraine on February 24 in what it called a special operation to reduce the military capabilities of its southern neighbor and eliminate those identified as dangerous nationalists.

Ukrainian forces have put up stiff resistance and imposed extensive sanctions on Western Russia in an attempt to force it to withdraw its forces.

Thomson Reuters 2022

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