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Tommy Robinson Russia

Far-right supporters flocking to “Russian Facebook” open up personal data to Putin government

Far-right supporters who are flocking to a social media network described as “Russia’s Facebook” risk sharing their personal data with Vladimir Putin’s government.

Yesterday, we reported that Tommy Robinson and Britain First have joined the social media platform VK after being banned from TikTok, and are encouraging their supporters to do the same.

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Praising the platform, Robinson said VK is “Russia’s Facebook” and asserted he would be migrating all social media activity to the site, which has 500 million users. Robinson now has 3,000 followers on the platform.

But far-right fans may get more than they bargained for by joining VK.

According to its data policy, the platform can share user’s data with Russian government authorities, without notifying its users.

It says:

“In accordance with laws… government organisations and courts have the authority to request information from technology companies about their users.

“Information may be provided to government authorities, in response to a legally-grounded official request in order to comply with court orders, facilitate investigations, protect the rights of third parties, and identify fraud and security threats.”

The company’s data policy adds that it could pass on people’s phone numbers, email addresses and locations.

“The laws of the Russian Federation provide courts and law enforcement authorities with the power to request information about users at different stages.

“By law, without a court order, user data can be requested, for example: personal page address, time and IP address when registering the profile, mobile phone number, email address…

“Unfortunately, it is forbidden in most countries of the world, including Russia, to notify users that we have received such requests. In Russia… the very fact of receiving a request is considered to be confidential information, therefore we do not have the right to disclose it.”

In recent years, people have been more concerned about the use of their data online.

The far-right may well have found a network where they won’t be banned. But they risk sacrificing their data to the Russian government in the process.