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Social Networks Win Over Ukrainians – Daily

March 26, 2008

Social networks on the Internet are increasing in popularity in Ukraine and more and more Ukrainians are registering on Facebook- type websites brought into the country from Russia, a Ukrainian newspaper has reported. The leading network, V Kontakte, has increased its audience by 15 per cent every month since the beginning of this year and now claims 17 million users. The following is the text of the report entitled: “Ukrainians have taken to social networks,” published in the Ukrainian business daily Delo on 25 March; subheadings have been inserted editorially:

Russian network breaks into Ukraine

Social networks are all the rage in Ukraine. First it was students and school pupils, and then those a bit older in the tooth started making virtual contact with their old classmates, fellow students and work colleagues. At the end of February the popular Russian social network V Kontakte [In Contact] launched a Ukrainian interface on its website, and the Odnoklassniki [Classmates] site spoke about plans to open an office in Ukraine. Nowadays, nobody is surprised any more by the story of people being telephoned at midnight and asked “How do you like my new photograph on Odnoklassniki?”

Employers are hurrying to close access to such sites in their offices, whilst recruiting companies are using the data bases of social networks to the utmost. Thanks to Odnoklassniki most Ukrainians have come to learn that the Internet is not only a mail box.

According to the bigmir.net web site, since the beginning of the year the daily audience of the Ukrainian Internet has been increasing by 15 per cent every month. The figure today is close on 2m people. Last September fewer than 1m Ukrainians visited the network on average every day. This increase is mainly down to access to V Kontakte and Odnoklassniki. In February, V Kontakte went into first place in popularity in the Ukrainian segment of the Internet, squeezing out the usual leading Ukrainian web page Google, and Odnoklassniki now occupies fourth place in the ratings. At this moment V Kontakte is No 1 web site in the CIS per number of visits, leaving behind the regular leader in recent years, the Mail.Ru postal service.

Users from far and wide

There is a new profile every second on the V Kontakte site. Today this social network brings together 9.5m registered users. Odnoklassniki says it has 14 million. According to the statistics of the alexa.com web site, 13.6 per cent of visitors to Odnoklassniki are Ukrainian Internet users, which is 1.9 million people. The proportion of Ukrainians using V Kontakte is 17.2 per cent, or 1.7m users. There are also a umber of users from Belarus, Kazakhstan, Germany, Estonia, Israel, the USA and Canada registered on both sites.

Russian social networks were set up along the lines of successful Western sites. Odnoklassniki.ru is along the lines of Classmates.com and V Kontakte compares with the British Facebook service. There are five social websites in the 20 most-visited sites in the world. The leader is Myspace.com, which offers blogs, photographs, videos and music. Next comes Facebook, which has over 60m users. Thanks to the success of the site, its creator Mark Zucherberg has at 23 become the youngest billionaire in the world. Other popular networks have achieved only regional success. Orkut.com is the most popular in Brazil, Skyrock.com in the French-speaking countries and Friendster.com in the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The popularity of social networks has become a pleasant surprise to the operators in the market of broadband access to the Internet. While the creators of websites like V Kontakte and Odnoklassniki are thinking about how to convert this multi-million army of users into money, the providers are already successfully earning money on them. High-speed access to the Internet for the people of Kiev and major regional centres has already ceased to be a luxury. The people in Kiev have the opportunity to choose the most advantageous from a wide range of offers, whilst in the regions the problem of access to services is paramount, and then tariff packages have to be taken into account. In response to the sharp rise in the Internet audience at the beginning of the year, all the main providers reduced their tariffs.

Originally published by Delo, Kiev, in Russian 25 Mar 08; p 12.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Former Soviet Union. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.