Increased use of VPNs in Russia

March 16, 2022
Russia sees a 2,000% spike in VPN downloads following social media bans.

We’re at the beginning of a J-curve. This is a one-way transformation in Russia.

Sascha Meinrath, a communications professor at Penn State University, who sits on the board of Brave New Software – the parent company to VPN provider Lantern.
  • Russia has seen a 2,000% increase in use of VPNs (virtual private networks) since mid-February.
  • How VPNs work: VPNs can be downloaded from an app store and allow devices to gain access to otherwise-blocked websites and platforms.
  • Something To Consider: "The concern, of course, is that the majority of the people, the general population, might not necessarily know about those tools. [They] can be complex if your digital literacy is quite low, so it's going to remain a challenge to have a bigger section of the population really adopt these tools," remarked Natalia Krapiva, a lawyer at digital rights group Access Now. She also added that the Russian government has been restricting internet freedoms for over a decade.

Why It Matters: Vladimir Putin has taken steps to censor Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in order to limit outside sources of information for those in Russia. VPNs allow users to continue to use these platforms without being impacted by Russian censorship.

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by Jenna Lee,