Hope, Lies and the Internet: Social Media in Ukraine’s Maidan movement
Title: Hope, Lies and the Internet: Social Media in Ukraine’s Maidan movement
Author: Katie Kuksenok
Publication Type: Report
Date Published: 11/2014
Institution: Center for Media, Data and Society (CMDS)
In November 2013, a revolution began in Ukraine. Victor Yanukovych, the Ukrainian President, had backed out of a trade deal with the European Union. A peaceful protest formed in Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Kyiv’s Independence Square. The government acted immediately and brutally to suppress it. This action, in turn, provoked another clash on December 1, 2013. For several months, protesters camped in the center of Kyiv. It was a time of increasing violence, but February 18–20, 2014 were the most turbulent days, with almost one hundred protestors – “the heavenly hundred” – dying as the result of gunfire from the Berkut or Ukrainian special forces. Ultimately, the protests drove Yanukovych from power, and early elections were scheduled for May 25th, 2014 – events that led to the Russian annexation of the Crimea in March, and then the rise of Russian-sponsored separatist fighters in the east of the country. The Maidan movement, which the protests came to be called, has an enormous presence on social networking platforms – Facebook, for example – both in Ukraine and abroad. Protestors used these sites to organize rallies, and the public used them to make sense of the flood of often-contradictory breaking news. The Internet was a key tool for many Ukrainians in navigating the “information war” between Ukrainian broadcasters and the Russian media, which is controlled by the Kremlin and adopted a pro-Russian slant.