Ukraine: Facebook instead of Parliament – Script (en)

JOÃO, student,
Free University of Berlin:
“My name is João, I’m from Brazil and I study political sciences, here in the Free University. I use Facebook to keep in contact with my family in Brazil. I also use it as an easy form of entertainment for memes and so on.”

 

APOLLINE, student,
Free University of Berlin:
“My name is Apolline Simons. I come from France and Germany. Usually I use Facebook to know what my friends are doing and what is happening around me.”

 

SINA, student,
Free University of Berlin:
“My name is Sina and I come from Germany and Morocco. I use Facebook for basically checking news, newspapers and also to know what is happening around me, how my friends are doing and university stuff.”

 

EMMY, student,
Free University of Berlin:
“My name is Emmy and I’m from Berlin, I’m 18 years old. I don’t use Facebook, because I think there are already enough social media accounts, like Instagram. And yeah, it’s just too much for me.”

 

ANTON, student,
Free University of Berlin:
“My name is Anton. I’m originally from Kyiv, it’s a capital of Ukraine. I use Facebook on a daily basis in order to inform myself about the political situation in my country. I follow several media resources like Ukrayinska Pravda, Novoe Vremya and Dzerkalo Tyzhnia. Additionally, I follow several political bloggers who produce some more probably emotional content in order to provoke some political discussions.”

 

ANDRIY, student,
Free University of Berlin:
“My name is Andriy, and I am originally Ukrainian, but have been living in Germany since five years. I mean, the main idea of Facebook is to stay in touch with ‘friends’ or I would say, somebody else. I use Facebook as well as a primary source for political statements, for example.”

 

ROMAN, student,
Free University of Berlin:
“My name is Roman, I’m from Ukraine and I would say, Facebook is paramount  for Ukrainian political discussion. We like talking politics, and since we don’t like talking to our political institutions, we bring it to Facebook. So yes, Facebook is a big thing in Ukraine.”
FREIJA POOT, speaker,
Free University of Berlin:
“Facebook users from Western countries primarily see this platform as a source for entertainment and an informal communication tool, while for Ukrainians Facebook is much more about political activism and professional communication. And this video is going to tell you why.”

 

ANASTASIA MAGAZOVA, journalist and researcher,
Free University of Berlin:
“My name is Anastasia Magazova, I’m a Ukrainian journalist, now based in Berlin. In the last few years, Facebook became a powerful tool in hands of Ukrainian civil society, as well as in hands of Ukrainian politicians.  I personally see that some topics discussed on Facebook, for example, in the evening – and in the morning it is discussed in the parliament, and the same way back.”

 

FREIJA POOT, speaker,
Free University of Berlin:
“The rate at which Facebook has spread in Ukraine is incredible. It is the third country in the world, after India and the Philippines, when it comes to the speed of Facebook’s user growth. With 13 million users, it is now Ukraine’s leading social network. The platform experienced an increase of almost 10 million users since March 2014. This was the time after the Euromaidan revolution, which can be seen as a trigger for a heightened social media usage.The Euromaidan was a Ukrainian movement against the anti-European politics of the former president Viktor Yanukovych. Notably, the revolution started with a Facebook post encouraging people to protest on the Independence Square.”

 

ANASTASIA MAGAZOVA, journalist and researcher, Free University of Berlin: “It’s actually after Euromaidan in Ukraine [that] Facebook became a big source of information.  I think that Facebook played a key role in the revolution, because a lot of things… and for example, tools of mobilization and connection between people, activists and civil society were made on Facebook. For example, activists and volunteers even created a few pages in different foreign languages, just to inform people who are not in Kyiv at that moment or people abroad, about the ongoing protest during all days of revolution.”

 

BOGDAN MIFTAKHOV, Euromaidan activist, researcher, Free University of Berlin: “My name is Bogdan Miftakhov, I’m from Kyiv, Ukraine. Now I’m studying in Berlin, but 6 years ago I was on Maidan in Kyiv. Then Facebook was the most important coordinating tool, because at that time it was pretty hard to block Facebook. On the last days of Maidan we had a lot of people who were in hospitals. And in this time I was very active in Facebook groups, because for me it was important that these people will not go to the jail after the hospital. That’s why Facebook and Facebook groups were a mobilization tool to tell us, who are free and at home: “People, we need you! Please come and secure us from the police, secure these people who are now in the hospital. They are not able to secure themselves and you can make it!”

 

FREIJA POOT, speaker,
Free University of Berlin:
“After the Euromaidan, the annexation of Crimea and the conflict involving pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine made Facebook an important tool in two ways. First of all, Facebook is being actively used as an information source on the occupied territories, due to the lack of access to traditional Ukrainian media there.”

 

ANASTASIA MAGAZOVA, journalist and researcher, Free University of Berlin: “It’s really hard to count how many people from occupied parts of Donbass and in the annexed Crimea used Facebook as a media. For example, Radio Free Europe has two projects especially for this audience on the occupied territories. And they are quite successful on Facebook, because people from the occupied territories write comments, questions, share their opinion and also give them some feedback about their materials.”

 

 

FREIJA POOT, speaker,
Free University of Berlin:

“Since the annexation of Crimea and the war in Eastern Ukraine, Facebook has also been used as a tool to accumulate aid and volunteer resources for the army and internally displaced persons. A great example is a charity fund “Help the Army of Ukraine” that was founded as a volunteer community on Facebook.”

 

FREIJA POOT, speaker,
Free University of Berlin:
“Even though Facebook was rapidly gaining in popularity after the Euromaidan, the Russian platform VKontakte for quite a while retained the biggest number of users in Ukraine. The Ukrainian government was concerned with the distribution of fake news and propaganda on Russian websites and social media, as well as with information security in Ukraine in general. That’s why in 2017, numerous Russian platforms including Vkontakte were prohibited, which made Facebook the number 1 platform in Ukraine.”

 

FREIJA POOT, speaker,
Free University of Berlin:
“Nowadays, Facebook is actively used by Ukrainian politicians as a channel for political campaigning. During the latest presidential and parliamentary elections, it significantly shaped public opinion in the country and polarized the society. It created two conflicting online camps, one supporting the former president Petro Poroshenko, and the other one – the showman Volodymyr Zelensky, a new figure in Ukrainian politics, who managed to mobilize his voters in a rapid way and win the elections.”

 

ANASTASIA MAGAZOVA, journalist and researcher, Free University of Berlin: “As a reporter, I was covering presidential and parliamentary election this year in Ukraine, and I can surely say that Facebook was used by leading political parties as an agitation platform. Some of them were really successful in it. And now they are sitting in the parliament and in the Office of the President of Ukraine. Results of one journalistic investigation show that all political parties use well-paid promotions for their posts and also bots for writing positive comments under these posts. I think that Facebook became more and more like a manual tool for the control of political process in Ukraine.”

 

FREIJA POOT, speaker,
Free University of Berlin:
“To sum up, Facebook in Ukraine means more than just personal communication and entertainment. It is a source of news, a forum for political debates and a tool of political mobilization. NGOs, activists, journalists, and politicians instrumentalize Facebook for their purposes and compete for public attention on the platform.”

 

ANASTASIA MAGAZOVA, journalist and researcher, Free University of Berlin: “You can share your thoughts, you can share your opinions. Unfortunately, we have a lot of bots and paid content, but still for freedom of speech and freedom of media Facebook can be a good platform.”
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