Selling internet control: The framing of the Russian ban of messaging app Telegram

Mariëlle Wijermars*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


How are extensive internet control, surveillance and restricted online anonymity reconceptualized into virtues of effective state governance, rather than violations of civic rights? The Russian government has instrumentalized ostensibly sound legitimations - countering terrorist and extremist propaganda, combatting child pornography - to bring about a dramatic decline in internet freedom. While these policies have been widely studied, scholarship examining how the Russian government legitimates and cultivates popular support for restricting online freedoms remains scarce. This article therefore studies how restrictions of internet freedom are framed in political and media discourses. It focuses on the case of Telegram, a popular messaging application that was banned in Russia in April 2018 for its refusal to provide the FSB with access to encrypted messages in compliance with anti-terrorism legislation. It finds that media framing of the ban was more diverse than the official governmental line. While national security framing was important, the 'rule of law' frame occurred most frequently, and conspiracy framing was markedly infrequent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2190-2206
Number of pages17
JournalInformation, communication and society
Issue number15
Early online date29 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Internet governance
  • Russia
  • policy framing
  • messaging apps
  • Telegram
  • surveillance


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