On July 18, 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 has crashed in Ukraine, on the border with Russia, with 298 people onboard. The investigation of the incident examines three main versions of the party responsible for the missile strike: Russian military, Ukrainian military, pro-Russian rebels/terrorists.
The investigators should draw their attention to the social media run by terrorists. In the early hours of the strike, the page devoted to the terrorists’ leader Strelkov (Girkin) informed that “rebels shot down Ukrainian AN-26 plane”. The footage added to the news showed the smoke of the crashed MH17.
In the aftermath, when it was clear that the target of the missile was a Malaysian passenger plane, the terrorists denounced news about shot of Ukrainian AN-26 plane and deleted it. Nevertheless, dozens users have captured screenshots of the news and published it. It might be used as an evidence of pro-Russian terrorists involvement into the biggest plane catastrophe of the recent ten years.
Later, terrorists published the news accusing Ukrainian military planes in shooting Malaysian MH17 down. The inconsistency of the coverage questions terrorists’ informational war. Also, Security Service of Ukraine has published a phone conversation between terrorists discussing the crash of the plane. It identifies the names of those responsible for the missile strike.
Post by terrorists aboit the successfull missile strike of “Ukrainian” plane
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Chapter 1 (pp.11-12)
To analyze media activism we should ask, who are the actors and what is their background? To implement media activism online, users should have at least relevant experience in blogging, civic activism and the media industry to understand how to successfully inform about the issues they address. In Ukraine, many successful online initiatives during anti-government protests were launched either by representatives of non-profits or journalists with solid experience in the fields. Thus, their experience helped to bring professional standards to grassroots initiatives, making them more noticeable to the eyes of professional media.
One of the examples to illustrate agenda setting by civic activists was the initiative of the Ukraine Crisis Media Center – a temporary institution launched by Ukrainian media experts and public relation specialists in early March 2014. The idea of the center was motivated by the misbalance of media coverage about Ukraine during the Ukraine-Russia conflict in Crimea. The majority of state-owned Russian media used propaganda as a tool to mislead audiences about events in Ukraine. Russian coverage also targeted international media. In response, the initiators of the Center gave a floor to speakers from the Ukrainian government and representatives of the expert community. The center also invited foreign and local journalists, providing them with first hand information, thus encouraging them to generate news within the international and local informational flow, and thus sustaining the Ukrainian point of view on the conflict.
Full text of thesis available here – https://grassglobal.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/thesisvitaliimorozfinal.pdf
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LifeNews, a Russian tabloid, serving as one of the key propaganda news resources in Russian, utilizes social media to disseminate manipulations and fabrications covering Ukrainian events. The sophisticated work of the newsroom anticipates the active use of Twitter and YouTube.
On May 18, 2014, Ukrainian military seized in Donetsk region two Russians who claimed to be journalists of LifeNews. Ukrainian law enforcement agencies accused Russians of “cooperation with terrorists”, fighting against Ukrainian army near Sloviansk.
In response, LifeNews launched the campaign calling to “save our guys”. Only in Twitter up to 70,000 tweets have been published with hashtag #saveourguys. Russians also appealed to UN and OSCE demanding to free their “journalists.” Ukrainians published evidences of close cooperation between LifeNews representatives and terrorists.
Meanwhile LifeNews continues to manipulate – the recent false they circulated was the news about “killed child” during the anti-terrorist operation in Donetsk airport on May 27. The photo taken to illustrate the “cruelty” of Ukrainian army against civilians, in fact, was a photo from Syria.
Note: LifeNews.ru was launched in 2009 as a yellow news site and since then it became one of the main news source for the Russian audience. Since its launch, the site started paying fees for video footage from witnesses. In 2013, a news TV channels was set based on the Lifenews site. It has journalists in 20 Russian cities.
While many pro-Ukrainian protesters coordinated they actions through Facebook in Nov 2013-Feb 2014, pro-Russian separatists are mainly active in the biggest Russian social media network VKontakte. Alleged to be funded by Russian government, they have created groups under the name of Antimaidan.
What are the profiles of the users, who actively post and comment with calls to disobey Ukrainian government and join Russia? Many of those users live not just in Kharkiv, but in Luhansk, Sevastopol, Moscow etc. The avatars reflect values of those separatists – Soviet Union, Stalin, Putin, Slavic unity, Russia.
У Росії достатньо ресурсів аби вести інформаційну війну проти України, однак недостатньо аби тягатися з західними медіа. ИТАР-ТАСС, РИА Новости, Russia Today та російські телеканали оперують величезними бюджетами, працюють роками практично в цілодобовому режимі, а віднедавна перейшли й в онлайн. Арсенал російської пропаганди виглядає наступним чином: Russia Today в Фейсбуці має 1,4 мільйони прихильників, в Tвітері – 630 тисяч. РИА Новости – 1,1 мільйони, в Твітері – 550 тисяч. До порівняння – найбільш впливова у вітчизняному інформаційному просторі Українська Правда має у Фейсбуці 185 тисяч прихильників, у Твітері – 146 тисяч. – Читати увесь текст
To consider the Internet freedoms in Ukraine, one should consider the latest developments in media industry in Ukraine, in particular, the segment of the Internet and social media. Such analysis must foresee a broader perspective, including the development of the Ukrainian Internet as an industry as well as the role of government that directly and indirectly regulates the Internet.
49,8% of adult population in Ukraine had access to the Internet as of Sept 2013, reports Kyiv Institute of Sociology (KIIS). The Internet access expanded from big cities to regional centers and small towns. The market for online advertising has grown 20-30% annually and the forecast for 2013 was $250 million. Online purchases became an everyday habit for hundred thousands of Ukrainians. The segment of tablets in the market was rapidly growing – 784 000 tablets were imported to Ukraine during the first three quarters of 2013. The growth of tablets sales in the 3rd quarter of 2013 was 233% compared to the same period of 2012.
The market of Internet providers in Ukraine was diverse and competitive since late 90s, the time when it has been constantly developing. An average monthly payment for broadband Internet access is around $12-15, one of the cheapest in the world. The cost of the Internet in Ukraine made the service accessible to new customers and helps the market to grow. A Ukrainian cyrillic domain zone .УКР for websites was registered in 2013, expanding the variety of domain names for local business and media.
The government interference targeting Internet companies was among the most disturbing factors of the industry development. In 2013 the government took actions to control the online payments and the distribution of content online by using the effective but legislatively doubtful method – to invade the offices of the companies and eject network servers. In 2013 the law enforcement agencies targeted the following offices: IT-company GlobalLogics, Russian social network VK.com, online payments company WebMoney, Internet-provider Volya, file exchange service company FS.com. On Dec 9, 2013, the government used the same method against their political opponents – police invaded into the headquarter of oppositional Batkivchyna political party and ejected the servers. Continue reading
Ukrainian revolution would have not resulted if social media and the Internet had not been available to the citizens. The first call to come to the Independence square to protest has been posted in Facebook by a journalist Mustafa Nayem on Nov 21, 2014. But even more, the development of digital culture will be crucial for the success of Ukraine in the nearest years.
How do social media and the Internet influence the social order? Here is a digest of recent developments:
The New York Times refers to Facebook as a source by quoting Ukrainian officials:
“Berkut is gone,” the acting interior minister, Arsen Avakov, announced in a posting on Facebook. Many Ukrainian progressive politicians see social media as a direct tool to spread a word of their appeals and calls.
UT-1, an official first TV channel in Ukraine agreed to provide Hromadske.tv, which is online TV channel, couple of hours of broadcasting per day. The context: UT-1 has bebe the most manipulative TV channel during Yanukovych regime and it was fully controlled by the previous government.
A new news site HUBs http://hubs.com.ua has been launched on Feb 21. The project is run by ex-journalists of Forbes Ukraine, who retired from the magazine in Nov 2013 as a protest against censorship by a new owner. The project has been working for two months, initially the articles have been published in Facebook until the site was built.
The issue of lustration for politicians and ex-state officials is widely discussed in the Internet. Hundreds of Facebook posts have been published during last days. There are couple of sites targeting the issue:
– #НеБутиСкотом http://skoty.info/ – a comprehensive crowdsourcing approach to collect information about politicians, police, judges and thugs (titushki) on one resource.
– We remember http://lustrationukraine.org/ – a site I have launched two days ago to collect video with the speeches of the most outrages politicians.
– Activists have published a questionary on state officials in Kyiv, asking users to report in those who should be under lustration.