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Russian Youth Say 'Nyet' to Facebook, 'Da' to Ad-Supported Video

14 Jan, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Country’s YK social media platform has five times the unique users of Facebook, some say due to access to pirated movies

Facebook may be the world’s largest social media platform with more than a billion unique users. But in Russia the website touts just 20% of the unique users afforded the country’s preferred social media platform, YK, with a reported 50 million users.

The reason: YK apparently turns a blind eye to pirated movies, while coveting online dating — both major draws to the targeted youth demo. YK’s catalog of pirated movies (especially new releases) is immense, according to Jamie Bartlett, director of the center for the analysis of social media at the think tank Demos.

In an article Bartlett wrote for The Telegraph, he said the Recording Industry Association of America cites YK as one of the most egregious piracy sites in the world. Facebook, meanwhile, clamps down hard on suspected pirated content.

The Motion Picture Association of America has long included Russia on its list of piracy havens — notably for pirated DVDs. That hasn’t changed with digital distribution.

The MPAA considers Russia a “notorious market,” where illegally downloaded U.S. movies top 31 million copies annually. Indeed, there wasn’t a single Internet piracy criminal case filed in Russia in 2012, according to the International Intellectual Property Alliance, as reported by Bloomberg.

That mindset could be changing for the former communist country, however, as it and China embrace Hollywood movies and studios, in turn, welcome the incremental box office and home entertainment revenue.

Russia has the largest Internet audience in Europe with 61.3 million users, according to comScore.

Last summer, President Putin signed a law making it harder for Russian websites to offer pirated movies and TV shows. That move has helped Ivi.ru become touted as the "Netflix of Russia." The service claims to have 17 million members who largely opt for free, ad-supported video similar to Hulu. In fact, just 10% of its members use the subscription streaming service, suggesting Netflix won’t be setting up shop in the country anytime soon.

“We haven’t announced any plans for Russia,” Netflix spokesman Joris Evers said.

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