VK (social network)
|Type of site||Social networking service|
|Registration||Open to everyone with a cell phone|
|Available language(s)||70 languages|
|Users||over 200 million|
|Created by||Pavel Durov|
|Launched||10 October 2006|
|Revenue||$ 152 million (2011)|
VK (Originally VKontakte, Russian: ВКонтакте, literally "in contact") is a social network service available in several languages but popular particularly among Russian-speaking users around the world, especially in Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Belarus, and Israel. Like other social networks, VK allows users to message contacts publicly or privately, create groups, public pages and events, share and tag images, audio and video, and play browser-based games.
As of December 2012[update], VK has at least 195 million accounts. VK is ranked 25 in Alexa's global Top 500 sites and is the second most visited website in Russia. In December 2012 VK had an average of 43 million daily users.
"В Контакте" (VKontákte) translates to English as "InContact" or "InTouch".
Founder Pavel Durov launched VKontakte for beta testing in September 2006, having just graduated from St Petersburg State University. Next month the domain name vkontakte.ru was registered. User registration was initially limited to within university circles exclusively by invitation, but the site still grew quickly. In February 2007 the site reached a user base of over 100,000 and was recognized as the second largest player in Russia's nascent social network market. In the same month the site was subjected to a severe DDoS attack, which briefly put it offline. The user base reached 1 million in July 2007, and 10 million in April 2008. In December 2008 VK overtook rival Odnoklassniki as Russia's most popular social networking service.
V Kontakte was incorporated on 19 January 2007 as a Russian limited liability company. Founder and CEO Pavel Durov owns 20% of shares (although he has majority voting power through proxy votes), and a trio of Russian investors, Vyacheslav Mirilashvili, Mikhail Mirilashvili and Lev Leviev (not from Africa-Israel Investments), own 60%, 10% and 10% respectively. The company is now completely owned by offshore firm Doraview Limited, based in the British Virgin Islands. The full current ownership is not in the public domain, although Mail.ru Group (formerly Digital Sky Technologies) has publicly acknowledged a stake of 39.99%. Subsequently, the full ownership structure was published.
The company is controlled by Pavel Durov, founder and CEO. On 29 May 2012 Mail.ru Group announced that it has decided to yield control of the company to Durov by offering him the voting rights on its shares. Combined with Durov's personal 12% stake, this gives him 52% of the votes.
Current shareholder structure as of 2011 is: 12% is owned by Vkontakte founder’s Pavel Durov, 8% by his partner Lev Leviev, and 40% by Vyacheslav Mirilashvili and members of his family. Mail.ru Group owns a 39,99% stake, having acquired 7.44% from Pavel Durov and other shareholders last month for $111.7 million.(reference footnote #14)
As with most social networks, the site's core functionality is based around private messaging and sharing photos, status updates and links with friends. VK also has tools for managing online communities and celebrity pages. The site allows its users to upload, search and stream media content, such as videos and music. VK features an advanced search engine, that allows complex queries for finding friends, as well as a real-time news search.
- Messaging. VK Private Messages can be exchanged between groups of 2 to 30 people. An email address can also be specified as the recipient. Each message may contain up to 10 attachments: Photos, Videos, Audio Files, Maps (an embedded map with a manually placed marker) and Documents.
- News. VK users can post on their profile walls, each post may contain up to 10 attachments – media files, maps and documents (see above). User mentions and hashtags are supported. In case of multiple photo-attachments the previews are automatically scaled and arranged in a magazine-style layout. The news feed can be switched between all news (default) and most interesting modes. The site features a news-recommendation engine, global real-time search and individual search for posts and comments on specific users' walls.
- Communities. VK features two types of communities. Groups are better suited for decentralised communities (discussion-boards, wiki-style articles, editable by all members etc.). Public pages are a news feed oriented broadcasting tool for celebrities and businesses. The two types are largely interchangeable, the main difference being in the default settings.
- Like buttons. VK like buttons for posts, comments, media and external sites operate in a different way from Facebook. Liked content doesn't get automatically pushed to the user's wall, but is saved in the (private) Favorites section instead. The user has to press a second 'share with friends' button to share an item on their wall.
- Privacy. Users can control the availability of their content within the network and on the Internet. Blanket and granular privacy settings are available for pages and individual content.
As of October 2012 the site features 3 official languages (English, Russian and Ukrainian) as well unofficial user-generated translations into 70 more languages. Advertisements are only shown in the Russian and Ukrainian versions.
Russian-speaking users can choose between the standard Russian version and two extras: a Soviet version and a Pre-Revolutionary version. Other than language tweaks (e.g. telegrams for messages and comrades for friends) these versions contain other easter eggs. For example, all private messages in the Soviet version have a stamp saying 'passed server censorship'. The pre-revolutionary version uses old-style Russian orthography. Both extra versions are also ad-free.
Copyright issues 
In 2008 the leading Russian television channel RTR sued VK (then Vkontakte) over unlicensed copies of two of its films, uploaded by VK users. In 2010 this dispute was settled by the Russian Supreme Arbitration Court in favor of the social network. The court ruled that VK is not responsible for its users’ copyright violations, taking into account that both parties agreed with the technical possibility to identify the user who posted illegal content and who, consequently, must incur the liability. Another ruling early in 2012 went partially in favor of Gala Records, a recording studio, when the same court ordered VK to pay 7000$ for not being active enough in regard to copyrighted materials.
Anti-piracy efforts 
Since 2010 VK has also entered several partnerships with legal content providers, such as television networks and streaming providers. Most notably, the Video on Demand provider IVI.ru, that has secured licensing rights with all of Hollywood majors in 2012. These partnerships allow providers to remove user-uploaded content from VK and substitute it with legal embedded copies from the provider's site. This legal content can be either ad-sponsored, subscription based or free, depending on the provider's choices. VK does not display its own advertising in the site's music or video sections, nor in the videos themselves.
Promotional use by bands and musicians 
Musicians that use VK for promotion often upload their own tracks to their official VK pages. Notable examples include the Russian rapper Noize MC, as well as international celebrities like Dj Tiesto, Shakira, Paul Van Dyk, The Prodigy or Dan Balan.
According to Alexa Internet ranking, VK is one of the most visited websites in the post-Soviet countries. It holds the second position in Russia. Ukraine and Belarus, and 5th in Kazakhstan.
After submitting profile deletion, you have to wait 210 days to complete submission.
See also 
- Ambient awareness
- Internet in Russia
- Six degrees of separation
- List of social networking websites
- List of virtual communities with more than 100 million active users
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- "Exercise of Option". Mail.ru Group. 2011-07-14. Retrieved 2011-07-29.
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- "Shareholder Mail.ru Group yields control to founder". ewdn.com. Retrieved 2012-05-30.
- Bowker, John (29 May 2012). "Russia's VKontakte delays IPO after Facebook debacle". Moscow: Reuters. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
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- People search results | VK
- Supported are the formats: doc, docx, xls, xlsx, ppt , pptx, rtf, pdf, png, jpg, gif, psd, mp3, djvu, fb2, ps and archives containing these formats. Executable files and files over 200 Mb are not allowed.
- "Russian court rules social network not responsible for user copyright violations". ewdn.com. 16 March 2011. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
- "Vkontakte.ru too "passive" with copyright infringement, says arbitration court". ewdn.com. 22 February 2012.
- "Copyright Violation Notification". Vk.com. Retrieved 2013-01-06.
- "TNT removes its videos from Vkontakte". Lenta.ru (in Russian). 10 November 2010.
- "CTC Media clamps down on piracy". ewdn.com. 20 June 2011. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
- "Vkontakte to relace pirated video with legal content". Lenta.ru. 25 November 2010.
- "Russian Online Video Service ivi.ru Inks Deals with Hollywood Majors". The Hollywood Reporter. 27 April 2012.
- "Interview with Oleg Tumanov, Ivi.ru CEO". RBC Daily (in Russian). 14 May 2012.
- "Audio section at Noize MC's official page on VK.com".
- "DJ Tiesto's official page on VK.com". Retrieved 18 December 2012.
- "Shakira's official page on VK.com". Retrieved 28 December 2012.
- "Paul Van Dyk's official page on VK.com". Retrieved 28 December 2012.
- "The Prodigy official page on VK.com". Retrieved 28 December 2012.
- "Dan Balan's official page on VK.com". Retrieved 28 December 2012.
- All list
- "Alexa - top sites in Russia". Retrieved 28 December 2012.
- "Alexa - top sites in Ukraine". Retrieved 2012-09-17.
- "Alexa - top sites in Belarus". Retrieved 2012-09-17.
- "Alexa - top sites in Kazakhstan". Retrieved 2012-09-17.
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