Social media not only played a pivotal role during the Ukraine protests in Kieve but a very important one as well.
We have recently spent time in class talking about the effects of social media on journalism and news in general. In today’s society social media is a huge source of breaking news and for some people their main source of news. While there are many arguments about how social media has negatively affected the way that news is distributed I think in the case of recent events in Ukraine it was a positive source.
In mid-February when violent protests in Ukraine began the rest of the world took notice. With such a highly publicized problem occurring in Eastern Europe it is only fair to think that the information coming from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter may not be reliable. With so much information on such sites not all information is reliable, however I think it gives huge insight and primary source accounts of what is going on. The Facebook and Twitter accounts of Kiev residents that are reporting on the situation are a great source of information because while some reports may be conflicting or not always giving the correct information it is representative of the chaos and news being offered in Ukraine at the time. Now a few months later as we look back at the protests and some tweets it is easy to see how important of a role social media played in notifying the world about the situation as well as a source for Ukrainians to stay connected. People argue that news on social media is hard to trust because there is so much available but when you look back at the tweets that reported wrong information they are in my opinion insignificant when thinking about how useful Twitter was in informing the rest of the world.
As the protests continued for day’s social media stayed a pivotal organizational tool for those in Kiev as well as everyone else in the world. Pablo Barbera explains in his article that as protests raged on and become more violent “the number of tweets mentioning the main hash tag used by protests, #Euromaidan, steadily increased over the day” (Barbera). The constant updates that twitter was able to provide through that hash tag is extremely helpful for Kiev residents to get quick information and to stay aware throughout the day, as the protests became a serious danger. Also, “the proportion of tweets in English had gone up dramatically from 44 to 53%” which suggests that possibly the Ukrainians tweets “are being augmented by a much larger population of users from the international community” or that there was a large number of “Ukrainians tweets in English to prompt this increase in participation on the part of those outside the country” (Barbera). Twitter became a primary source during this time able to inform not only Ukrainians but also the whole world. Without social media and twitter we wouldn’t have as many primary sources of the events as we do. While major news sources report for the most part correct and verified news they would never be able to deliver the amount of stories and information that Twitter was able to provide at this time.
The Ukraine version of Facebook was also used during the protests and played a very important role. Like Twitter it was able to spread information and also act as a logistical tool for people in Kiev. Many Facebook pages were established for emergencies and helping people get medical care (Barbera). Some Facebook pages were even translated into English to spread information more widely. These pages contained huge amounts of information just like the tweets. They contained news updates, individual accounts, and live streams of the protests and acted as a place for protestors and Kiev residents to coordinate action and unite. Without these pages information, news and action would have not been able to reach such a large audience.
While social media at times can be a negative when it comes to reporting news because of the massive amount of information that may not all be accurate overall I think it is very useful. Not only are the sites so readily available and connect so many people worldwide they also help to give the protestors a voice internationally. Without social media it is safe to say that the Ukrainian protests may not have reached the amount of international attention and support that they ended up garnering. As social media continues to infiltrate deeper into our culture I think that more breaking news will be positively affected by social media and the way that it can connect people, spread information to far and quickly and provide first hand accounts of events.