Russians are flocking to Telegram instead of WhatsApp

Telegram has become an increasingly popular destination for Russian civilians and Russian-language news channels to communicate and disseminate information about the war. And now the platform a better known Messaging service as WhatsApp, according to Russian telecom operator Megafon.

The organization noted that Telegram’s share of mobile internet traffic in Russia increased to 63% in the first two weeks of March, up from 48% in the first weeks of February. On the other hand, the traffic share of meta-owned WhatsApp fell to 32% from 48% last month. Megafon also found that the average Telegram user in the country consumes more data on a daily basis than a WhatsApp user.

Megafon has linked Telegram’s rising popularity to limitations on other platforms. Facebook and Instagram are currently banned in Russia, although WhatsApp is still operational. But Meta and Russia aren’t on good terms — especially after Russia labeled the company an “extremist” organization — so WhatsApp users may be able to read the writing on the wall.

“The popularity of the service has grown against the background of restrictions on access to other messengers and social networks,” Megafon said in a statement.

Megafon added that the service began “active growth” on February 24, the day Russia sent troops to Ukraine.

Unlike Meta’s platforms, Telegram helps both the Kremlin and Russian civilians communicate. Russian-language news, politics and commentary channels, news organizations like the Washington Post and the New York Times, and pro-Kremlin channels all use the platform. Telegram said it wasn’t even sure why it wasn’t blocked and didn’t know if Russia intended to ban the app later.

Telegram is not the only platform used by Russian civilians. The clubhouse has also become a popular place for Russians to discuss and debate the war and to connect with the western world.

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