“The Internet should not be an environment dominated by rules set by one country alone, even the strongest and most advanced country. There should be international rules drawn up through collective effort, and the worldwide web should continue to develop as it has done so far – as a common environment. Only this way can we counter terrorism, xenophobia, and other unlawful activity on the Web.” Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev
In terms of internet usage, Russia ranks fifth among European countries, with 17.5 million monthly Internet visitors. Russia is the fourth biggest market in Europe for social networking. Odnoklassniki and VKontakte are Russia’s largest social media web sites. When Russians go online for the first time they appear to be joining and using social networks almost immediately.
From the outside looking in it appears that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is fearlessly leading Russia into the online world. After all, he has a video blog and during his reign there have been nearly 33 million new internet users in Russia. However, as the quote above suggests, things are not always as they seem.
If you take a closer look at Russia and its developing world of social media you will find that there are still remnants of its former socialist state. The two most popular Russian social networking sites are in fierce competition and have restrictions in place which prevent users from mentioning the URL of the competitor in communications with other users.
In January 2008, the Duma (Russian Government) considered a bill which proposed the creation of an Internet Technology Center and the creation of an Association of Electronic Communication which would tighten internet controls. In my opinion the Internet has thrived and become a global phenomenon in large part because it has managed to remain unregulated. Each country is entitled to create their own rules, however, if Russia wants to continue to be viewed as the next big social media market. The internet should remain unregulated for Russians and people all over the world to be able to connect, share and change the world.