The Effect of VKontakte and Facebook use on the Political Opinion of Russian Students in Glasgow

Ka Leung

Central & Eastern European Studies

4th

Year of study:

Over the last decade, as Facebook steadily rose in popularity and became the go-to social network for virtually every country in the world, VKontakte (henceforth VK) has remained the most popular social media site in Russia. If one believes there is truth to the concept of “filter bubbles”, the language threshold for VK use and its geographically concentrated user base is arguably one of the broadest, most effective filter for content there is. This qualitative study intends to shed light on what the perceived similarities and differences of VK and Facebook are in terms of the news content and political discourse found on either of the sites, and how this is related to the views of their users. 11 semi-structured interviews were conducted with Russian international students studying at universities in Glasgow. The study finds that censorship and perceived security risks are a major source of distrust and reason for preferring one over the other; there is a perceived difference in political discussions on Facebook and VKontakte; and using social media is seen as a useful way of socialisation of norms. However, choice of news agents are seen as having a bigger influence over one’s political opinion.

They say doing CEES is not a substitute for a personality but my CEES meme page begs to defer.

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