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Facebook and Twitter prove to be vital components in the #Euromaidan Revolution!

Image courtesy of Flickr user Sasha Maksymenko

“Remind me again why we don’t have a cure for the common cold yet? #help“, tweets user and personal friend, @AlyssaTorske. While my Twitter feed is often filled with remarks such as this, it is also contrasted with tweets from news sources such as, “Facing Rising Seas, Bangladesh Confronts the Consequences of Climate Change “, @nytimes. 

While many people worldwide flock to use various social networking sites such as Twitter, we must ask ourselves the questions of why we use and how we use these social media platforms. For many, the interest in sites such as Twitter and Facebook stems solely from the ability to keep in touch with friends while cyber stalking new ones. However for others, the reasons are more deeply embedded in the hopes of pushing for political and social change on a public platform that is not censored.

In February 2014, people worldwide watched on as violence in the Ukraine escalated when President Putin of Russia sent troops into Ukraine. Since November, protestors in the Ukraine have been seeking out the aid of social networking sites like Twitter to help spread the word about their opposition to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s outright rejection to the European Union’s proposal to engage in economic trade while accepting a new deal from Russia in the form of $15 billion in aid and other economic benefits. With access to these social media platforms, the protestors have reached an extremely wide and diverse audience thus propelling the revolution forward.

In the Huffington Post article, “Tweeting the Revolution: Social Media Use and the #Euromaidan Protests”, Pablo Barbera explains how social media “continues to be a pivotal organization tool for those in Kiev and also the most relevant mechanism for disseminating and exchanging information both within Ukraine and abroad.” (HuffingtonPost). Euromaiden, or “European square” was the “name coined for the revolutionary movement and the official Facebook page for Euromaidan which was created on November 21st and has over 272,000 likes”, according to StrataBlue (StrataBlue.com). In his article, Barbera goes onto explain that the use of social media directly correlates to the events happening on ground, where it would slow down in the evenings but increase greatly on days like, “February 18th when protests in the square became more violent” (HuffingtonPost). As of February 21st when the article was written, Barbera explains that “over 250,000 tweets using the protest hashtags [#Euromaidan] have been sent in the past 24 hours. Previously, the highest volume of tweets per hour was about 10,000 but today we have seen volume as high as 30,000”, proving how many people can be reach in such a short amount of time (HuffingtonPost).

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Image courtesy of Flickr user Ivan Bandura

In an interesting passage from Pablo Barbera and Megan Metzger’s Washington Post article, “How Ukrainian Protestors are using Facebook and Twitter”, the pair state:

“Almost all of the information on this page [Euromaidan Facebook Page] is in Ukrainian, suggesting that the information is geared to locals rather than the international community, and there is evidence of vibrant interaction. As we have observed in other cases, this type of pages serves a dual purpose: to provide information about the ongoing protests to individuals who are not participating, and to coordinate protestors. A look at the most popular Facebook posts on this page confirms this intuition: many posts provide news updates that generate intense discussions, but the page is also used to provide important logistical information for protestors. There are, for example, posts with maps of places to get free tea and access to warm spaces, advice on how to avoid being provoked by government agentsflyers to print and distribute around the city, as well as information on where protesters will be gathering”. (WashingtonPost).

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Image courtesy of Flickr user Ivan Bandura

The effects of speaking out about the Euromadian project via social media were seen almost immediately, and it became evidently clear that Russia began to worry. In the article “Ukrainian Activists Work to Counter Russian Narrative on Social Networks”, Robert Mackey explains, “while the Ukrainian activists used Twitter and YouTube to make their case, there were reports over the weekend [weekend prior to March 2nd]  that Russian social networks, including the popular VKontakte platform, were blocking access to pages written by supporters of the Ukrainian protest movement known as Euromaidan”, eager to limit the access to such online protests.

However, while Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have all been vital sources for Euromaidan, these social media sites have also acted as a great tool for people globally to learn more about the happenings in the Ukraine. In Connor Byron’s StrataBlue article, “Euromaidan: The Vital Role Social Media is Playing in Ukraine”, he quotes Kateryna Monastyrski, a Ukrainian woman living in Florida, “Facebook has been our lifeline, we check in with our friends who go to the protests, and when I see that they are online again by looking at the active green dot on Facebook, I am relieved they are okay” (StrataBlue).

Social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube have all remained vital to the Euromaidan Revolution in the Ukraine. These sites have helped to coordinate protests, give tips, spread information, and spark conversation. The knowledge gained through such sites is one of the most vital components to the success of a revolution–and it is evidently clear that the use of social media sites has had a large impact so far in the Ukraine and will continue to do so as events continue to unfold.

-Meghan Gambichler

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