After a craze for forums, Livejournal, and Facebook, fashion for mix telephony, instant messengers and social networks came to Telegram of Russian Pavel Durov. This fashion originated in Russia and then began a triumphal procession in Ukraine. The first Russian Telegram channels with a half-million audience (like Stalingulag) made a splash in Russia.
However, Vadym Karasiov, the director of the Institute of Global Strategies, points out that there was a significant difference between the Russian and Ukrainian Telegram at the dawn of development. “The content of the channels concerned society, not big politics because big politics in the Russian Federation is managed from one center. They have always had much more monarchy, and we have much more anarchy. Therefore, we have more of a manipulative element, and frank games - games in who will lead the Cabinet or ministries, etc.,” Karasiov notes.
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Over the past couple of years, hundreds of political channels have appeared in Russia, and one of the most popular, NEZYGAR, has 275 thousand subscribers. Most of these channels are somehow connected with the top authorities, they produce gossip and palace intrigues in order to redistribute the influence of Putin's entourage.
When the Russian epidemic swept Ukraine, our own Telegram channels began to grow rapidly. Now their number is approaching 100,000, while every second is about politics and it is Russian-speaking. In general, of all Russian-speaking users of Telegram, more than 16% are in Ukraine. These are the data of the Telegram statistics service.
Ukrainian political Telegram channels do not write about Stalin and not about the Gulag. They present the latest gossip, insides, the details of the secret conversations and correspondence.
“The peculiarity of Telegram channels is their anonymity, that is, the ability to throw in information for which you do not have to bear responsibility. Plus, anonymity does not limit a person to the norms of social behavior, he can write about anything, and aggressively and without regard to someone’s feelings The success of information is based on three pillars: deaths, sex, and scandals. Telegram is just the place for these three pillars, you can publish anything there,” Petrenko notes.
Andriy Zolotariov, the head of the Third Sector Center, calls another feature that attracts both authors and readers – efficiency in delivering information.
Anonymity, speed and a wide range of scandalous topics are what distinguish Ukrainian political Telegram channels. They do not always duplicate each other, although reposts are quite common. Nevertheless, most of the anonymous channels are not news aggregators, they create their own unique content. In particular, Lehitymny Telegram channel stands for President Zelensky, and Krokodyl- for the team of ex-president Yanukovych. Sheptun tends toward Russia, and Razvedchik covers mainly everything connected with the Ukrainian roots of the impeachment of US President Trump. Temny rytsar stans against the Servant of the People faction, while the authors of the channel are MPs from this very party.
Political analyst Kyrylo Sazonov notes that, as a rule, these channels are managed by the professionals. Of the entire array of Telegram channels, Joker and Lehitymny have provoked two most recent scandals. The trick of Joker was the correspondence with politicians and officials on behalf of famous people. A certain technology allows you to successfully duplicate someone else's number even without having a SIM card. But the fuse of the Joker did not last long, and pretty soon it ceased to be interesting.
Experts believe that the "Telegram boom" will pass soon, and there are objective reasons for this.
Firstly, if we talk about the formation of an electoral opinion (and everything that politicians do is aimed solely at maintaining their power, that is, at winning elections), then Telegram channels are an absolutely ineffective tool. “Telegram channels lead to the fact that politicians are becoming more and more closed in their narrow circle because the masses do not read Telegram. Public opinion is still formed by the TV and the print media,” Andriy Zolotariov is convinced.
Karasiov adds: “Why America or other countries have no such enthusiasm for Telegram channels? Don’t they have enough technologies there? Because there were six factions in parliament. Telegram will leave the information market as soon as it is over back-door games.”
Perhaps, you have already heard about Ukraine’s new media code. It provides an equal sign between Telegram and ordinary media. If this norm passes through parliament, then Telegram channels will be required to disclose the ownership structure. But how does the government plan to achieve this in practice?
Actually, it’s possible to “decipher” the forces that stand behind one or another Telegram channel. “There are a number of markers. Starting with semantics, that is, with words that the author uses, and ending with topics that cover the channel. In a world where there is access to large amounts of data, artificial intelligence is 100% impossible to be anonymous,” Ruslan Bortnyk, the director of the Ukrainian Institute for Analysis and Policy Management, notes.
But the issue is not anonymity. Just over time, the Telegram will become obsolete. Andriy Zolotariov believes that in the near future Twitter, President Trump’s favorite social media, will become of particular importance. Bogdan Petrenko insists that “over time, Telegram channels will change. Those that provide information truthfully will always be popular.”