Social networks are heavily integrated into everyday life and are a communication tool in which society heavily relies on. Whilst people can overlook this, they are a vital tool for connectivity during times of crisis as they relay information all across the globe.
Social networks and mobile technologies have accelerated the rate at which relationships develop, information is shared and influence takes hold. Facebook has allowed us new ways to communicate and collaborate through features such as news feeds, profiles, pages and groups. Smartphones and tablets provide mobile and instantaneous access to information from any location.
People now use social technology to help shape the world’s events and culture and it is increasingly difficult for governments to exercise control over this terrain due to open freedoms of citizen journalism.
This is evident in the #Euromaidan protests in Ukraine where new media, social networks and other IT tools where utilised for organizing and sustaining the protests. Since the beginning of the protests, Facebook in particular has played a central role in organizing protesters and informing wider audiences about the latest developments. The first gathering of protesters, organized in Kyiv on the eve of November 21 and which was immediately dubbed Euromaidan (European Square), was sparked by the appeals of several journalists and civil activists.
Facebook and Twitter soon became the key platforms for coordinating protest activities and sharing information. The Facebook page is used to inform protesters about urgent news and issues, discuss plans of future actions, warn against using violence, share advice on how to deal with police forces, and much more.
These pages helped inform international audiences about the protests in Ukraine that initially went almost unnoticed by international media. Also, following beatings of protesters by riot police and the first arrests, additional Facebook pages and groups emerged to meet the growing need for medical and legal assistance, as well as for spreading basic information to keep protesters safe.