Telegram will overtake WhatsApp to become Russia’s most popular messaging tool, mobile operator MegaFon said Monday. Russians are flocking to this service because Moscow has restricted some digital services.
WhatsApp owner MetaPlatforms Inc. has been involved in a Russian lawsuit, and prosecutors are trying to call it an “extremist organization.” Authorities are actively promoting Telegram as it bans other foreign platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Russia’s military operations in Ukraine have added fuel to the boiling debate between foreign digital platforms and Moscow.
Megaphone, one of Russia’s four major carriers, has analyzed its telegram share from 48% in the first two weeks of February to 63% in the first two weeks of March, according to an analysis of mobile internet traffic. He said he showed a surge.
According to MegaFon, WhatsApp’s share has dropped from 48% to 32%.
The average Telegram user consumed 101MB of data per day, compared to 26MB for WhatsApp.
Founded by Russia’s Pavel Durov, Telegram has long been a popular news platform in Russia, with content channels operated by almost all major media, government agencies and public figures.
“The popularity of this service has grown against the backdrop of restricted access to other messengers and social networks,” MegaFon said in a statement. “The service began to grow vigorously on February 24th.”
On February 24, Russia sent tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine in a special operation to reduce the military power of its southern neighbors and eradicate those called dangerous nationalists.
Ukrainian troops intensified resistance and the West imposed rigorous sanctions on Russia to withdraw its troops.