A man holds a smartphone showing the Islamic State logo in front of a screen showing the Telegram logo in this picture illustration taken in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Picture: Dado Ruvic
The man who set up the most popular social network in Russia axed all of his online friends in one fell swoop on Monday.

Having them, he wrote, was so 2010. That may be a sign of the times: Predictions from a few years ago that social networks would lose ground to messenger apps appear to be coming true.

Pavel Durov has often been called Russia’s Mark Zuckerberg, because he set up a Facebook clone called Vkontakte, which quickly beat the original in Russia because it became the medium for sharing pirated movies and music.

Durov lost control of the network long ago, and the piracy is somewhat less rampant, but Vkontakte is still far ahead of the competition in its home country.

Durov, meanwhile, has funded the development of a messenger app, Telegram.

Based in Berlin and structured as a non-profit, the messenger has about 100 million monthly active users.

He explained his decision to purge as follows: "Everyone a person needs has long been on messengers. It’s pointless and time-consuming to maintain increasingly obsolete friend lists on public networks.

"Reading other people’s news is brain clutter. To clear out room for the new, one shouldn’t fear getting rid of old baggage."