Russians are reportedly downloading popular VPN clients from the App Store and Google Play at record speeds to bypass restrictions on social media platforms and other websites.
app figures reports that as of March 1, “the most popular VPN apps in Russia saw a surge in downloads of more than 1,200%” on both the App Store and Google Play.
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This increase is said to have increased the number of daily downloads from 10,000 to over 500,000 in a single day. According to Appfigures, top VPN apps were downloaded more than 1.3 million times in Russia alone between February 24, when the country invaded Ukraine, and March 4.
Russia has blocked access to Facebook – and reportedly Twitter – for alleged “discrimination against Russian media and information sources” following its invasion of Ukraine. Russians can use VPNs to bypass these restrictions so they can continue to visit these platforms.
VPNs could also be used to visit websites that block traffic from Russia by making it appear as if the connection originated from another country. (Which, it turns out, is useful for more than trying to stream content that’s available in some markets but not others.)
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That doesn’t mean VPNs are a panacea. The VPN service provider can still log information about a user’s traffic, and some websites block known VPN exit servers entirely. But for now, many Russians seem content to make those compromises so they can surf freely.
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