After Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to turn down an agreement with the European Union in favor of a $15 billion loan from Russian President Vladimir Putin, the country erupted into chaos.
Taking to the streets, protesters clashed with state forces who hoped to maintain control of the quickly escalating political divide within the country between pro-russian separatists and the “Euromaidan” protesters who hope to align the country with the west.
Throughout the protests, social media played a key role in allowing the organization of the movement and communication between individuals involved. The hastag #Euromaidan was developed to represent the mass protests, and was used to create a massive presence of photos, videos, and first-hand accounts of what what happening. Within the first 24 hours of protests, the hashtag was reportedly used upwards of 21,000 times.
Not only was social media used for sharing of photos, videos, and first-hand accounts, it played a large role in the organization of the protests themselves. Using an interactive map created for the movement, protesters were able to find locations of food, showers, rest areas, churches, and more. Places to sleep were even listed on the maps as overnight temperatures of -30℃ made it necessary for protesters to find shelter.
The role that social media played in Euromaidan protests in Ukraine demonstrate the potential of social media tools to become further involved in the political process. Platforms such as Facebook & Twitter allow for mass communication, organization and mobilization over a very short period of time, and citizens now have the ability to create large scale acts of rebellion when faced with government oppression. As social media tools become more and more involved with everyday life, the masses can begin to reclaim power in their societies if they can learn to use them correctly.
Kuksenok, Katie. "Hope, Lies and the Internet: Social Media in Ukraine’s Maidan Movement." (2013): n. pag. Nov. 2014. Web. Nadler, Daniel. "From Egypt to Ukraine, Social Media Now Allows You to Share Revolution." Institutional Investor. N.p., 25 Mar. 2014. Web. 11 Nov. 2015. Talaga, Tanya. "How Social Media Is Fuelling Ukraine's Protests." Toronto Star. N.p., 05 Feb. 2014. Web. 11 Nov. 2015.
Written by Adam Pugsley