Social media affects Ukraine-Russia war

Charli Burdick-Kitchell, Graphic Editor and Copy Editor

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances,” the U.S. Constitution states in the First Amendment.

Social media has rapidly influenced the world in the last 20 years. With the Ukraine Russian war happening and the U.S. showing support for Ukraine, people have found most of their source of information through social media, especially the younger generation.

“For younger people like my kids, their main source is Instagram, where they find more personal posts from people in Ukraine rather than an image from the government or a news organization,” history teacher Kevin Klancher said.

Social media has accommodated their platforms to make the spread of information more reliable. Meta’s new policy allowed some Facebook or Instagram users to share violent sentiments against Russian forces invading Ukraine. This is not to let more hate crimes be spread, because what is being shared will be closely reviewed, but misinformation can still be spread.

“We need to know [what is happening in Ukraine]. The problem with social media is you don’t know where the post is getting its sources from because anyone can post about anything. That’s more problematic for me. I feel more confident when I look at a news source if it’s violent imagery,” journalism teacher Laurie Hansen said.

In response to Meta’s new policy, Russia banned Instagram on March 14, banned Facebook on March 21 and has restricted Twitter. People in Ukraine have shared videos and posted about Russians invading their towns and the destruction they have faced. Russia is trying to shield its civilians from seeing this so they can keep control of the narrative on their invasion of Ukraine.

“I’ve seen videos of people in Ukraine all leaving, buildings being exploded and knowing people are stuck in those buildings and living conditions is really disturbing,” junior Courtney Rodd said.

The younger generation is more influenced in a positive way because it gets them thinking and talking about and wanting to get our government more involved in helping any way we can.”

— Laurie Hansen

Russia can be seen as a dictatorial government with President Vladimir Putin as a dictator. Putin said the media is not allowed to call it a war but a “special military invasion” and signed a law, threatening 15 years in jail for Russians who post “fake news.” So far, the government has arrested thousands of anti-war protesters.

“The government is keeping their people from finding out what’s really going on in their own country. There’s a lot of Russians that are actually in denial that there’s even an invasion happening, and that is scary,” Hansen said.

Hansen described social media as a great equalizer, where it spreads a headline to get people interested but people then should go fact check.

Some Ukraine civilians have not lost their spirit and have posted about what all they have lost but then their strength in how they continue to fight. People have also made jokes and memes about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and while “some are quite insensitive” Rodd described, others can be empowering and encourage people to help support Ukraine.

“The younger generation is more influenced in a positive way because it gets them thinking and talking about and wanting to get our government more involved in helping any way we can,” Hansen said.

Social media in this war has been a tool for each government. It has allowed the Ukraine people to support each other and help motivate each other to stay strong in the midst of a war. Russia has used it to control the image of the war and control the narrative of their nation. Newer generations have used it as a tool to gather information and share it with each other, to help support each other and to spread awareness.

“It’s a tragedy to see and you feel bad for the people of Ukraine and everybody involved. There are tough decisions to make and you hope everybody is going to stay safe,” Klancher said.