Social Media

What Is VK? 10 Incredible Facts You Should Know About Russia’s Facebook

Briallyn Smith 18-07-2016

Normally, when we think of social media, we think of Facebook – after all, it’s linked with everything from uber rides to voice calls to money transfers. However, if you live in Russia, you’re far more likely to think of (formerly known as VKontakte). It’s one of the top Russian social networks.


There is very little published about VK in English, and so the site can seem like a bit of a mystery. Learning a little bit more about this social media phenomenon may help you to reach audiences in Russia or Ukraine, open your eyes to social media platforms in other parts of the world, and understand a different approach to gaining an audience for a social media platform.

If you’ve never heard of VK before, or just want to learn more about it, these are the ten facts about VK that you need to know!

1. VK is the Most Popular Social Media Website in Russia

With Facebook coming in at #4 (behind other popular social media sites Odnoklassniki and VK is also the second most popular website overall, with only Yandex (a popular Russian search engine) placing ahead. VK receives over 50.2 million unique visitors per month, and is also very popular in Belarus, Kazakstan, and Ukraine.


2. VK Lets You Stream and Share Media Files

Not only your personal photos and videos, but also third-party music and videos. Naturally, this kind of free file sharing is considered to be illegal, but no significant steps have been taken against these functions at this point in time. This is part of what initially set VK apart from other sites like Facebook – at a time when Facebook was mostly focused on profile pages and status updates, VK was essentially functioning as a Facebook-Spotify hybrid!


3. Russian Users Believe VK is Better than Facebook

It’s not just that VK is more commonly used in Russia – according to a study done at Germany’s Henrich Heine University, VK users consider it to be the superior social media platform overall! A survey conducted on people who used both VK and Facebook found that VK was considered to be more fun, easier to use, and more trustworthy overall.

4. VK’s Website Design Rarely Changes

In fact, based on VK’s current website design, you might assume you were on Facebook a few years ago. While new Facebook updates 10 New Facebook Tricks You Should Know About in 2016 Facebook is at it again – we're only a few weeks into 2016, and there are already several new changes to the world's most popular social network, with more significant changes coming later this year. Read More are constantly occurring in an effort to keep up with other social media platforms such as Snapchat, VK is much more content to maintain an familiar interface design. In the study mentioned above, VK designers give the following reason for their design choices:

“Website design we do not have to change, we like the minimalistic and simply constancy way it has looked at the beginning and also looks now”

5. VK Has a Fantastic Search Algorithm

VK’s search function is, again, similar to Facebook. That being said, Facebook has largely moved away from prompting users to add a significant amount of personal information in profile forms (moving more towards the visual Timeline featuring photos and videos).

In contrast, when I signed up for a VK account while writing this article, I had no fewer than 50 different boxes I could fill in on the profile (and VK repeatedly recommended that I fill them in while I browsed the site). Because it collects so much data, VK is able to truly narrow down its millions of users to find the person you are looking for based on any information that you have about them.



6. A VK Security Breach was Recently Exposed

In June of this year, the security breach was exposed when a hacker offered to sell 150 million accounts (including names, logins, plain text passwords, and phone numbers) on the dark web What Is the Deep Web? It's More Important Than You Think The deep web and the dark web both sound scary and nefarious, but the dangers have been overblown. Here's what they actually and how you can even access them yourself! Read More . It’s thought that the security breach occurred in 2012 or 2013, and it’s been hypothesized that it is related to the LinkedIn security breach What You Need To Know About the Massive LinkedIn Accounts Leak A hacker is selling 117 million hacked LinkedIn credentials on the Dark web for around $2,200 in Bitcoin. Kevin Shabazi, CEO and founder of LogMeOnce, helps us to understand just what is at risk. Read More reported earlier this year.

7. The Most Common Password on VK is “123456”

One piece of information that was learned after the VK database was posted online was that many of the leaked passwords were stored in plaintext by VK (not nearly as secure as most online password storage guidelines recommend!). Because of this storage system, the passwords were analyzed by [Broken URL Removed], who found that over 700,000 people used the password “123456” and another 400,000 used “123456789” (other popular passwords included “qwerty,” “1111111,” and “123321.” Obviously, the leak never should have happened – but this is definitely a good reminder to make sure that your password is strong and secure 6 Tips For Creating An Unbreakable Password That You Can Remember If your passwords are not unique and unbreakable, you might as well open the front door and invite the robbers in for lunch. Read More !

8. VK is More Popular with Young Users

Generally VK users are under the age of thirty. This is an interesting demographic shift, given that Facebook’s users are mostly ages 35 and up, and the platform is losing younger users to social media apps What Your Teen Doesn't Want You To Know They Use Their Phone For It's no secret that social media use is rampant among teenagers – but what exactly are they doing when they're staring at their phone or computer all day? Read More  such as Instagram and Snapchat. Some potential explanations for this difference are:

  • VK’s focus on sharing audio and video files between friends
  • Its decreased focus on adding only people you know
  • The popularity of the social media site Odnoklassniki with older Russian adults


9. VK has had a Complicated Political History

Even though VK’s origin story is very similar to Facebook’s (a university student named Pavel Durov created it for other students to stay in touch with classmates), it has had a much more complicated trajectory. While many social media sites are used for activism Hashtag Activism: #powerful or #pointless? #BringBackOurGirls, #ICantBreathe, and #BlackLivesMatter have seen wide international coverage in the past year – but are hashtags an effective means of activism? Read More , in 2011 Russian authorities asked Durov to shut down several pages dedicated to activist groups within Russia. After Durov refused, complicated back room deals and external pressures resulted in him selling his shares in VK, which is now primarily controlled by  corporations and individuals who are more cooperative with the government.

10. VK Isn’t Overwhelmed by Advertising

Advertising on VK isn’t overwhelming in the way it is on many other social media websites. For starters, if you use VK in a language other than Russian, chances are you won’t see any advertisements at all! Even in the default languages of Russian or Ukranian, ads are generally considered to be much less intrusive and brands do not have quite the same level of involvement with VK as they do on other social media platforms.

What We Can Learn from VK


Russia is considered to be one of the most active countries on social media in Europe, and the success of VK’s platform has a lot to do with that. In a world where every social media platform is vying to be the most relevant platform across countries and demographics, VK targeted a single geographic area and became wildly successful because of its ability to tailor its platform to the needs of its audience. While it’s unlikely that too many existing platforms will follow in its footsteps, there is a lesson to be learned from this approach for new social media apps and websites being developed – maybe broad-based appeal doesn’t need to be the goal!

What do you think about VK? If you’re a VK user, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! If you aren’t, I’d love to know what surprised you most in this article.



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  1. Chupa_
    July 23, 2020 at 10:19 pm

    I was born and live in Russia. I have been with VK for about 8 years. In VK, I do not like only unnecessary functionality, for example, clips work almost like stories, but clips are stored on your account indefinitely. The advantages of VK are: there is almost no censorship, unlike Facebook, a very convenient video player on the PC and in the mobile application, custom apps and chatbots, convenient communication.
    I hope I wrote it without errors in this comment.

  2. Mustapha
    March 22, 2020 at 4:08 pm

    I have always used Facebook till I came to Russia. And I was told that people rarely use it and that they use VK. I signed up and for some reason I can't identify I found it more convenient and fun that now I haven't logged into my Facebook account for almost 2 years now and I don't even miss it or think about it

  3. Greg
    November 4, 2019 at 3:04 pm

    There is one more very important advantage VK has over Facebook: very little censorship. As long as you're not posting spam, hardcore porn, child porn, harrassing or stalking other members, or calling for jihad, you can pretty much post anything you want. Yes, the Russian Federation has censorship laws that theoretically apply, but in actual practice they seldom are, and nobody cares if you're offended. This is a welcome change from Facebook, whose censorship is vast and often arbitrary or dependent on which side of a political issue you're on, and it's rules Byzantine, usually very selectively applied, and often appear to be made up on the spot according to the personal whims of the censors.

  4. Vivi
    February 17, 2019 at 10:29 am

    Though this an old post, I’m still hoping to get help.
    Was hoping to search up some old classmates I schooled with, in Ukraine, many years ago. So...I registered on VK yesterday morning (from Africa- since I live here now), and was using it alright, but in the evening (same day) , I got a message saying, “Vivi your profile has been banned”.
    What? Why? I didn’t do anything illegal, and they won’t explain the reason I’ve been banned. I tried logging in several times to no avail.
    I tried using VPN but I still I can’t log in...
    Why have I been banned?
    Please help

  5. Jelena
    February 5, 2019 at 10:42 pm

    I know this is an old article but is the most interesting I found on line today about VK.
    I am from Serbia and use VK only to download e-books. It is so easy to find all the books I need, users are very friendly and share files generously. VK is very simple, user friendly, transparent. I use it for about two years now.
    What's the most fascinating is that I am not even a registered member. All I do is google e-books with "vk" in key fraze and I get all organic results than can be used to find the book. It's that simple. I guess something like this is not possible to do from certain countries, U.S. for starters.
    I will consider registering in the future because I am not allowed to download audio books in the same way as epub files.
    Looks so much better than FB, I am one of the Millenial kids who uses FB less and less, mostly because it became stuffed, too colorful, cluttered with commercials... little bit irritant.
    Great article!

  6. Abdullah
    January 26, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    I am from Iraq Greetings to you all. This is a very good topic. And I want to talk about him through his experience .. With Facebook .. I like Facebook. The blind and stupid man is in the house. This opens the door to any thief .. Facebook can not be trusted at all. It is only fit for entertainment. People can not have known companies or names to trust or rely on. Inside Iraq I saw people who could open the pages of other people. They play with them. Or I can find a page on Facebook but there are two who can open it. I tried to open the page once again. But I found that someone else's page had opened. I had my phone. Just leave this. I am also sure that the person I was able to open his page can also open the page that I open. I mean the page I opened belonged to a girl. But other than the bad guys he could easily spread scandals against her and tarnish her reputation. Here inside Iraq is very many problems. Among people because of Facebook's weaknesses. This is very embarrassing .. It is like you are extending your hand to someone to receive it when he refuses. This is considered inside Iraq insulting him. I personally. If a friendship request was rejected, I would make someone worse. Here, what happened is worse. They are not exposed to such embarrassing situations. But Facebook has another weak point. Anybody who tells someone else's page is closed. Funny requests, for example, to request a picture or a real name. For example, I said this situation caused problems. Many inside Iraq. Especially Iraq is a country unfortunately there is sectarianism in it. There are insults reaching problems and even cases of murder .. Of course there are to the courts and there are couples who divorced their wives because of Facebook. There is also something bigger than this is terrorism, whose elements have all become pages. There are fake videos. How to publish them. Facebook does not distinguish between this. Then another thing. In Iraq there is a very dangerous gang used for this mind control. These have branches across Iraq and they have unusual piracy technology. Is this an unknown question? This gang can easily manipulate Facebook pages. It closes a page easily and the way is very simple that it sends messages insulting others. Who will complain against the owner of the page that does not know Shi .. I mean the one who puts a piece of meat in the middle of cats, such as who puts it in a refrigerator or place far from danger. Do you know why? Just write and say there is a gang inside Iraq used for mind control. Of course this is the magic word .. which will close the page directly. Of course, this gang spies on me. Twenty-four hours .. So special circumstances. Not in Facebook. I mean if you were to receive an example. If every person.Parsal information about him and say that there is a gang spying on him .. Learn to know. That there is someone who manipulates the page. It is not. Unusual errors. Make Facebook Facebook. Just to be entertained and not to be relied on. Another is to spread lies. And the defamation of others. We also know that the media. When you publish false news can be sued against it .. and so it takes a reliable or reliable source of news. It bears the responsibility, while Facebook..Inside Iraq, Viss became a forum for insults. Shi became a tool of war. And discredit. The last pledge signed is not to be taken. This public publishing question seems to have become a media tool. But is there a guarantee that the news is true? Video clips published by terrorist gangs against the United States and Europe. For example. Is this permissible, while Facebook is invented. It is from America and European countries. It was like nuclear energy that spread. I knew that the gangs were manipulating here. But I wanted to hand a bag of mind control inside Iraq to competent authorities. That was my only goal. But the gang always responded by closing Facebook directly. This is something that I can not trust. Of course, if I look to you more about the problems that have occurred in Iraq because of Facebook, I will give you a lot. I mean, if Shi is made between friends only. Better, especially in a country like Iraq suffering from sectarianism. It became a golden opportunity to exchange curses of every kind. One also spreads against the other. But if it is like the phone of the inner circle better. But Facebook has a lot of weaknesses .. I mean, for example, someone who knows a friend takes the title of the page from him personally and not looking for them. This is better inside Iraq and thus becomes Facebook Shi for friends only .. Best Of becoming a means of sedition. . The situation inside Iraq imposes this. But Iraq is a country suffering from sectarianism. There is a terrorist gang used for mind controlof the spread of sectarianism inside Iraq has found Facebook Shi as a treasure for he.

  7. Wendy Jones
    December 30, 2018 at 4:37 pm

    I have just joined Vk and was on the site last night. Today I get a message saying that abuse has been found with my account and I am permanently blocked. I cannot find anyone to help me

  8. Outraged mom
    November 19, 2018 at 1:59 pm

    All this information fascinates me. I found this from checking my son's phone because he tends to visit websites that we don't approve of a.k.a porn. What I found in vk was what basically seemed like a sex slave site. I was horrified at not so much the content, but the fact that there would be something like job offers posted to some videos. And of course there is no knowing how old or how willing the subjects of these videos are. I am not a crazy mom in general but I am so disturbed by this. I guess this is the other side of lack of censorship.

  9. colonel Roy Mustang
    October 24, 2018 at 1:24 pm

    Maybe it would seem off topic,but on VK is a lot of material(related fan art too)from a manga that's very popular in Japan,and Russia as well. Very exciting.

  10. colonel Roy Mustang
    October 24, 2018 at 1:24 pm

    Maybe it would seem off topic,but on VK is a lot of material(related fan art too)from a manga that's very popular in Japan,and Russia as well. Very exciting.

  11. Richard
    May 5, 2018 at 8:30 pm

    I am a Russian and English speaker and use both Facebook and VK. I find VK much more user-friendly and less cluttered with ads and pointless unwelcome suggestions and propositions than Facebook

  12. Ismail Ghedamsi
    February 6, 2018 at 3:52 pm

    Only problem I didn't see yet an non-russian community.

    • Brett Morris
      April 12, 2018 at 1:34 am

      They are slowly being created in English.

  13. Pink
    February 5, 2018 at 4:14 am

    can public posts be liked by people even without vk accounts? how will the owner of the vk account know who "liked" his or her post?

    • Max
      January 12, 2019 at 3:18 am

      How I remember, posts can’t be liked by unauthorized users. And mostly, everyone can know all users who liked some post.

  14. Swami Kripananda
    December 15, 2017 at 8:01 am

    I <3 VK

  15. Postal
    November 15, 2017 at 11:56 pm

    I live in Russia and have accounts and on both platforms( FB and VK). But 100% of the time I use VK, because 1) the interface is very simple, clean and very VERY MUCH well-structured. When I open a Facebook page I'm really puzzled, because it's a total mess. 2) apparently, all of my friends use VK 3) not so many of my international friends have VK pages, not to say celebs and other interesting people

    • Nanina
      December 20, 2017 at 1:41 pm

      Hi, I wanted to ask you what is the censorship like in VK because facebook censors a lot, erases lots of of posts especially the ones that talk against homosexuality and gender ideology. Facebook looks like a dictatorshiop social media politically correct. That means that we are being forced to accept gender ideology whether we accept it or not.
      We cannot post freely on facebook anymore, our posts or images are erased directly from facebook.
      Do you have freedom of speech or "freedom of post" in VK?
      Thanks in advance!

      • Postal
        December 20, 2017 at 2:24 pm

        To be honest, I'm not a radical, I don't follow liberal media and fully share their ideas. But based on my personal experience, users feedback and the news on the net, I've never come across such situations with erasing posts or comments. VK isn't involved in this. It's completely about the administrators of a particular community, who might consider your post clearly extremist and delete it. Another option is that the whole community is suspended or forbidden under a court decision.

  16. Mihai Niculescu
    October 31, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    You have damn right,I already feel between friends!See you there!

  17. Dennis
    October 10, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    Who owns Vk ?

    • Simon
      May 23, 2018 at 9:18 am

      A company called

  18. Joe lowsac
    September 29, 2017 at 2:35 am

    VK is better in every way, including freedom of speech, for which FB should be particularly ashamed.

  19. Ka
    September 17, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    Sharing media isn't "illegal" in every country on earth because nobody makes laws for every country on earth. VK, like many sites in China and other places not easily controlled by American greed and capitalist tyranny, simply block people from America and other whiney regions from accessing the media, at the request of your corporate-controlled governments who serve the private financial interests of individuals, giving them blanketing, monopolizing patents and absolute rights to things anyone can do or create, simply to make sure that 1% of your people are multi-billionaires and everyone else pays them out of what little they have or they get sent to prison.

    No, illegal in America isn't meaningful to anyone else, and neither is American tyranny

  20. Anri
    August 30, 2017 at 8:24 am

    The main difference between FB and VK is that the first one does everything to get more and more money from users and you can't find such behavore in VK. VK is clean, simple, user firendly and the adds takes not more that 10 or 20 % of the website.

  21. Harken
    May 31, 2017 at 6:01 pm

    Am a VK user well I must confess that there is no social media that is more reliable and easy to use as VK I so much love it though I just got to know bout it but am in love with it it mature and wonderful am almost living facebook for VK you guys really did well keep it up

  22. Lexy
    May 6, 2017 at 12:59 am

    ?????? ???? ????? ??????^^
    Yes I have been a vk account user for about a year now. And I believe that vk is the most efficient social media there is. I use many social medias such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other apps, but I find myself constantly going back to vk more often in the day than any other. My Russian boyfriend had showed me this app and I have fallen in love with it. It is a great way into stay connected with the world and especially family and friends. To describe it, vk is like a hybryof Facebook+Spotify+YouTube+Snapchat it is amazing) and the simple format is easy to learn and use.

    With Russian love,

    • Briallyn Smith
      May 6, 2017 at 4:25 pm

      Hi Lexy, thanks so much for your comment and for sharing your experiences! It's so great to hear about why you keep coming back to VK more than your other social media accounts :)


  23. Alexandra nay
    April 10, 2017 at 6:20 am

    Thank you for your informative piece on VK. I am doing a project on social media in europe for my class and was wondering if you could share with me some of your sources via email? Also I think you have great writing style!

    Thank you so much

    • Briallyn Smith
      April 11, 2017 at 12:51 am

      Hi Alexandra, thanks so much for the kind comment! The hyperlinks throughout the article should link you to my sources for any statistics I used :) Hope that helps with your project - it sounds really interesting!


  24. Tommy Johns
    April 1, 2017 at 2:59 am

    I like VK because it is straightforward and easy to use. My disappointment is that either the Russian people don't like me, or they just don't want to engage with me. I try and find interesting things that aren't politically charged to post, and have not gotten one single like so far. I liked my own posts on a few of them so they wouldn't all be naked, but still no response .from the VK users. There were even a couple that requested friends from me, but still no response to my posts except they have been viewed. I think Russia has a fascinating history, has some beautiful country, and charming people. I met some people from Russia here, and we got to be pretty good friends. I hope it works here for me.

    • Briallyn
      April 6, 2017 at 6:28 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Tommy! It was great to hear about your perspective on VK, and I hope you have better luck making connections on VK in the future.

    • Alec
      June 9, 2017 at 8:00 am

      Hey, drop a link to your VK account, I'll see what posts you've got there.

    • Max
      January 12, 2019 at 3:33 am

      As I know, in vk people usually don’t really like when someone “likes” his/her own posts or photos, etc . Cause it seems like you are selfish. Just for you to know.

  25. Anton
    August 18, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    I'm a user of VK. And for me the main benefit of VK is listening to music. You know, it's the whole culture which don't have other social networks. I can publicate a photo with a song and create some ambient what I like or conversely I can follow this or open new music for me, and if I had not found this music in VK, it's unlikely I'd listen that music somewhere else. This is underground music often.

    Of course overload of adv discourages me in Facebook. Design of VK looks more friendly.

  26. Anonymous
    July 24, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    User of VK since 2006.
    At that ime FB was lacking in russian interface department (and iirc was refusing to register users, but maybe i remember it wrong), while Odnoklassniki iirc required mobile phone number to register. Also VK got short messages via Jabber and (later) SMS - which was novelty in Russia and was nice upgrade over ICQ/IRC. So naturally lot of people registered there - and while many moved on to different platforms later, most of my circles keeps VK account alive.
    Major point about any well-established social media sites is that you keep account alive for sake of keeping in touch with people you don't talk with daily.

    About politics - well, considereing popularity of VK it is no surprise that lot of ...less than upstanding citizens created groups there. Nazi, jikhadists and other political extremists - you name it and you'll be right to guess that admins and General Prosecutor's Office is playing 'whack the mole' with 'em all the time (not to mention usual drug-pushers and con man) . Something that FB does routinely too - but with much less western media attention.

    As for Durov being ousted from VK ...well, actually maybe he's visionary - but not a nice person and less of good manager than he think he is. One of major exoduses from VK happened when he decided to change interface then _got_in_ugly_name-calling_match_with_users who petitioned to return it as it was (month later change was reworked in more acceptable way). Bad for busyness i guess.

  27. Viktoria
    July 20, 2016 at 10:41 am

    Briallyn, thanks for your posts! Always something new to learn :)

    I'm from Belarus and I've been using VK since 2008. I use it for connecting with friends, watching films, and listening to music. Some of my friends use Facebook more often, especially the ones who have many friends abroad, but for most VK is number one.

    In fact, VK has presented its new design this spring (first time in 10 years!) The new one is only available to selected users. (Your screenshots feature the latest design). Not all users are happy with the changes. They say VK has lost its uniqueness and now resembles Facebook and Odnoklassniki.

    And, by the way, Durov who created VK, is also the founder of Telegram Messenger

    • Deb
      August 15, 2018 at 3:02 am

      i am curious about 2 things. it free as Facebook is? Two...can you form groups?

      • Hayk
        August 31, 2018 at 5:40 pm

        Yes and yes

  28. Anonymous
    July 18, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    There should be Ukraine - NOT the Ukraine.

    • Briallyn Smith
      July 19, 2016 at 8:24 pm

      Hi Albert - thanks so much for catching me on that one, it was a silly mistake on my part and I've had my editor make the changes so that it's now correct!

  29. Connie
    July 18, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    I became a VK user recently so I could join and follow content sharing groups. I'm an EFL teacher from Latin America and I'm constantly looking for new books and resources for my classes. Thanks to VK I've added literally hundreds of files to my resources stash.

    • Briallyn Smith
      July 19, 2016 at 8:25 pm

      Hi Connie - thanks so much for your comment! That's a fantastic way to be using VK and I can imagine that it's incredibly helpful for your role - thanks for sharing how you've been using it :)