MOSCOW: Telegram has overtaken WhatsApp to become Russia’s most popular messaging tool, the mobile operator Megafon said on Monday, with Russians flocking to the service as Moscow restricts some digital services, reports Star Online.
WhatsApp owner Meta Platforms Inc is embroiled in a Russian court case, with prosecutors seeking to label it an “extremist organisation”, and authorities have actively promoted Telegram as they have banned other foreign platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Megafon, one of Russia’s four main telecoms operators, said its analysis of mobile internet traffic showed that Telegram’s share had jumped to 63% in the first two weeks of March from 48pc in the first two weeks of February.
WhatsApp’s share dropped to 32pc from 48pc, Megafon said.
The average Telegram user consumed 101 MB of data a day, compared to 26 MB for WhatsApp.
Founded by Russian Pavel Durov, Telegram has long been a popular news platform in Russia, with almost all major media, government entities and public figures operating content channels.
“The popularity of the service has grown against the backdrop of restrictions on access to other messengers and social networks,” Megafon said in a statement. “The service started actively growing on Feb 24.”
Ukrainian forces have mounted stiff resistance and the West has imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia in an effort to force it to withdraw its forces.