The Role of Social Media in Russia’s War on Ukraine
9 Pages Posted: 5 May 2022 Last revised: 9 Jun 2022
Date Written: April 8, 2022
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shell-shocked the world. It has monopolized headlines in the print and broadcast media, unleashed a torrent of instant analysis in professional commentary, and flooded social media. This note considers how social media has been weaponized in the war effort of both sides and to what effect. Propaganda techniques and capabilities gain power in the new digital environment. At the same time, social media networks can help to expose propaganda and the decentralized nature of social media creates new challenges for authorities in controlling narratives. The net effect of the tension between information and disinformation cannot be settled on an a priori basis. When governments have “market power” in information space – which is the case, for example, within Russia – social media appears to be a very powerful tool for shaping public opinion. When information space is contested – which is the case in the much more open Internet in much of the rest of the world – there is a pitched battle being waged to set the narrative. The conclusion of that battle is as yet unclear.
Keywords: social media, Ukraine, Russia, propaganda, information society, market power
JEL Classification: F51, N44
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation