A digital Iron Curtain may be descending on Russia, as President Vladimir Putin struggles to control the narrative about his war in Ukraine. The Kremlin has already moved to block Facebook and Twitter, and its latest step in that direction came Friday as the government announced plans to block Instagram in the country, as well.
But despite Putin’s efforts to clamp down on social media and information within his borders, a growing number of Russian internet users appear determined to access outside sources and circumvent the Kremlin’s restrictions.
To defeat Russia’s internet censorship, many are turning to specialized circumvention technology that’s been widely used in other countries with restricted online freedoms, including China and Iran. Digital rights experts say Putin may have inadvertently sparked a massive, permanent shift in digital literacy in Russia that will work against the regime for years.
Since the invasion of Ukraine, Russians have been flocking to virtual private networks (VPNs) and encrypted messaging apps, tools that can be used to access blocked websites such as Facebook or safely share news about the war in Ukraine without running afoul of new, draconian laws banning what Russian authorities consider to be “fake” claims about the conflict.
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