Decentralized Media Production in Ukraine
Researcher: Jesse Driscoll (UC San Diego)
Trends in social media provide social scientists with access to unprecedented quantities of data. Cell phones and data promulgation applications are now ubiquitous, even in conflict zones and extremely remote or poorly governed parts of the planet. As distant observers attempt to make inferences about what people living in war zones were thinking at the time, the ability to retroactively analyze samples of self-created propaganda is an important research frontier. As of yet, there are no established best practices for this kind of work.
Many young Ukrainians used social media in 2014 to document their country's slide into war. Individuals produced and reproduced Ukrainian- and Russian-language propaganda in near-real time, and distributed it through their social networks. This project collects systematic data on the characteristics of people who participated virtually in the “Euromaidan” events of November 2013 — February 2014, before the start of the mobilization campaign that toppled the Yanukovych government. It will perform a user analysis of every tweet (approximately 20,000) that was generated within the territory of Ukraine related to the protests that became known as #Euromaidan. It will use time and geography trends to explore spatial and geographic variation in revolutionary uses of social media.Analysis on the use of social media in these events would contribute to the understanding of how technological changes facilitate contentious politics. This study has the potential to yield findings with applications for urban pacification and counterinsurgency, and would also yield valuable civil-society linkages with both Ukrainian civil society and Ukraine’s security sector.