One of the most common ways to connect with people is to ‘add’ them on Facebook, but not in Russia, where the most common social media platform is Russias Facebook Clone – VKontakte.
We all know – or are at least have a good idea – about Facebook’s rise to prominence. Beginning in 2004, it initially was designed for students on college campuses, before being rolled out to the general population and becoming wildly popular in the US. The company initially focused primarily on the US and left international markets to fend for themselves.
This left a gap to be exploited and that is exactly what VK founder Pavel Durov did. After creating a site with very similar aesthetics to Facebook’s, he used the exact same method to roll out VK, focusing on college campuses in Russia and former Soviet bloc countries.
This proved to be wildly successful and VK soon reached a critical mass in the Russian speaking market which it retains to this day. Facebook has tried and failed to get a foothold in Russia – in fact it can not even claim second place in users. Odnoklassniki (‘Classmates’) comes in a not so close second to VK, with Facebook being a distant third.
Despite the title of this article and the very similar origins of the two websites, it is unfair to simply call VK Russias Facebook clone. over the years, it has developed its own distinctive brand and interface. One of the best features of VK is the video and music sharing functions. You can easily watch full length television shows and movies within the VK platform.
This file sharing has got VK into some hot water in the past, with large companies such as Sony taking legal action. Russian courts found that VK was not responsible for user uploaded content and VK made noises about curbing copyright infringements. However, as of today, it is still easy to find pirated content all over VK, so it seems they don’t make too much of an effort.
If you are hoping to make connections with Russians during your time here in Moscow, it is almost essential that you have a VK account. There is an English version of the site, so signing up is a breeze. If you already use Facebook, then you will find the user controls in VK to be very similar and intuitive.
If you find any great pages on VK or any other interesting information about social media in Russia, please leave a comment below.